Three More People Accuse Priest of Sexual Abuse

WFTV [Orlando FL]
December 1, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are new allegations of sexual abuse and new multi-million dollar lawsuits against the Orlando Diocese. Three more people said the same priest abused them when they were kids.

Father Vernon Uhran, who has now been accused of abuse by eight people, was removed from the priesthood in 1992. But one of the new lawsuits levels a disturbing accusation against another priest, who heads up a parish in the Melbourne area.

A man referred to as John Doe #6 accuses Father David Page, who has run Holy Name of Jesus Church for years, of doing nothing when catching Father Vernon Uhran in the act of sexually abusing him in a church rectory in the early 1970s.

One of the men said Father Uhran repeatedly sexually abused him in the 1970s, when he was a student at Bishop Moore High School in Orlando, where Father Uhran taught a course on "Love, Sex and Marriage."

The man accused Father Page of inadvertently witnessing the abuse at least once in the rectory at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Altamonte Springs, when Father Page was the senior pastor there. He said Father Page saw Father Uhran fondling him on the floor and said "Father Page quickly exited the room and shut the door."

"Father Page did not disclose the abuse, did not prevent the abuse, did not even remove Father Uhran from St. Mary Magdalene," said Adam Horowitz, the alleged victims' lawyer.

The alleged victims said Father Page was not the only one who failed to intervene. They said the Diocese was first told about the abuse, 23 years before Father Uhran was removed from the priesthood, by a diocese employee and her son, who had been abused by Father Uhran. They accused the Diocese of empowering Father Uhran by not acting on the complaints.

"Allowed him to have sleepovers in the rectory. Allowed him to go on unsupervised field trips with these children," said Horowitz.

The alleged victims' attorneys said Father Uhran's seminary recommended against accepting him for the priesthood for undisclosed reasons. But in 1969, Bishop William Borders accepted him anyway and, the lawsuits claim, the sexual abuse began immediately. Eventually, Father Uhran was shuffled from parish to parish.

A 45-year-old woman said she, too, was sexually abused by Father Uhran when she was seven years old and he was studying to become a priest.

The lawsuits aren't only asking for money.

"We are calling on Bishop Wenski to disclose his personnel files. Open them up to the public, to the media to the parishioners, to the public at large," Horowitz said.

Father Page spoke to Channel 9 late Thursday afternoon and denied seeing or hearing about any abuse involving Father Uhran or even any rumors about it. He said he first heard about it 25 years later and was shocked. He said anyone who knows him knows he'd never tolerate or turn a blind eye to such behavior.

In a written statement, the Diocese said it removed Father Uhran when it first heard allegations that he was abusing children.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.