Archbishop Deposed in Sex-Abuse Case

By Jay Weaver
Bradenton Herald [Miami FL]
February 20, 2007

After fighting his civil deposition for months, the Archdiocese of Miami on Tuesday praised Archbishop John C. Favalora for his openness in answering closed-door questions posed by an attorney for an alleged victim of sexual abuse by a former Catholic priest.

"The leader of the Archdiocese of Miami openly and honestly responded to questions from plaintiff's counsel regarding the archbishop's actions in response to allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in this case," according to a statement issued by church spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta.

The statement said archdiocese lawyers "welcomed" the deposition "as a way to admit into the court record the facts of this specific case, the inconsistent allegations and the actions taken by the church in response to the alleged incidents."

The alleged victim's attorney, Jeffrey Herman, said Favalora's deposition marks the first time that a Florida archbishop has been deposed in the Catholic clergy sex-abuse scandal, which erupted nationwide in 2002.

Last December, a state appeals court ordered Favalora to give the deposition in the sex-abuse lawsuit against the archdiocese. The Fourth District Court of Appeal denied an archdiocese motion to prevent Favalora's deposition.

The lawsuit alleges that the Rev. Neil Doherty, who is now retired, sexually abused a boy while serving at St. Vincent Catholic Church in Margate. Favalora was archbishop during the time of the alleged abuse in the 1990s, and when the archdiocese placed Doherty on administrative leave in 2002.

Favalora testified that he wasn't aware of the child abuse allegations in Doherty's personnel file until after he asked another archdiocese official to review the files of all active priests after the national priest sex abuse scandal broke. Some of the allegations dated back to the 1970s, Herman said.

"It's a shame he never opened up the file," said Herman, who filed the suit in September 2005 on behalf of a 22-year-old man who said he was 11 when the abuse started.

That triggered a criminal case in January 2006, when Broward County prosecutors charged Doherty. If convicted, Doherty, 64, could face life in prison.

Miami Herald staff writer Amy Sherman contributed to this article.



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