$70,000 Bond Set for Priest
A Retired Priest Accused of Raping a Young Boy Is Expected to Be Released from Jail Today

By Wanda J. Demarzo
Miami Herald [Fort Lauderdale FL]
March 22, 2006

A retired Margate priest accused of drugging and raping a young boy over a five-year period is expected to be released from jail on bond today, his attorney said.

A Broward Circuit Court judge in Fort Lauderdale agreed Monday to set bond at $70,000 for Neil Doherty, a former priest at St. Vincent's Catholic Church in Margate.

Doherty, 63, who was arrested Jan. 26 and charged with eight counts of sexual battery, lewd and lascivious acts and molestation, must surrender his passport, Judge Susan Lewbow ordered. Doherty must also stay out of Margate -- where police say the rape occurred -- away from the victim and from any children under the age of 18. Doherty is also required to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Prosecutors asked that Doherty not be released, saying the "defendant poses a threat to the community, has no financial ties to the community and there are a number of allegations against him."

"I think the court saw it for what it was and the allegations reek of fabrication," said Doherty's attorney, David Bogenschutz.

If convicted, Doherty could be sentenced to life in prison.

Doherty's sisters, who could not be reached for comment, said they would use their property as collateral for the bond. Doherty would stay with relatives in Palm Beach County.

Broward authorities began investigating Doherty in August after a Broward man, now 19, filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Miami. The man, who is not identified in the suit, accuses the church of allowing the priest to serve at the Margate parish despite having settled an earlier lawsuit that involved Doherty. Detectives found four other young men who said they experienced similar abuse by Doherty.

According to the suit, Doherty befriended the boy in 1996, when he was 10 years old, after meeting him at St. Vincent's. The suit contends that Doherty drugged and assaulted him starting when he was 11, and raped him over a five-year period.

"The family is extremely disappointed that he got bond," said attorney Jeffrey Herman, who is representing the 19-year-old man. "One of the major reasons for this boy coming forward and going through the process of a trial was to keep [Doherty] off the streets and to keep him from hurting other boys."


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