Getting the Word out about Priest Abuse

WPEC [Florida]
April 3, 2006

He is accused of sexually abusing more than two dozen children.

A former priest is now living here.

That's according to a victims advocacy group who traveled more than 800 miles from Tennessee to make sure the man's past is not forgotten.

A few years ago that former priest, reportedly owned a liquor store on this street.

He has been difficult for some to get a hold of but those same people want to make sure the man's history isn't as hard to track down as he is.

It is something that Mike Coode tries to get over, his abuse by a priest.

He travels from his home state of Tennessee to get the word out about other priest abuse with a colleague and friend.

They brought their poster and their message to Lake Worth, to let the public know a former catholic priest who admitted to sexually abusing dozens of kids in Tennessee is now in the Palm Beach area.

Frank Richards, a former priest from Tennessee, is now in his late-50's.

According to our news partners at the Palm Beach Post, Richards confessed to sexually molesting dozens of young boys in the 1980s.

Richards admitted to the crimes so many years after they took place so prosecutors could never charge him.

The survivors network says he moved to the West Palm Beach area, trying leaving his past behind in Tennessee but those who know of that past are making sure it is not forgotten.

I checked with the Palm Beach Diocese.

Officials there tell News 12, Richards was never active in any churches in our area.

A Nashville newspaper reported in 2002 that Richards sought psychological treatment and says he no longer has the desire to abuse children.

We tried to reach Frank Richards.

We contacted the Catholic diocese in Nashville and Palm Beach, but no luck.

Then after several internet searches, we finally found a home in Port Saint Lucie that listed him as the owner.

Turns out his sister lives there.

Cheryl Richards says her brother doesn't live with her, he just co-signed for her home loan.

Cheryl says she understands people are upset about the priest abuse scandals but says her brother never admitted to doing those things.

Cheryl says, "that's not true... he did not admit them to them. They totally distorted what he said."

The Nashville diocese contacted the Palm Beach diocese to tell them that Richards was living in our area and to alert them of the accusations against him.

Richards left the priesthood in 1989.


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