Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct

By Kara Kenney

December 29, 2008

[full statement of the Diocese of Venice]

LEE COUNTY: The Diocese of Venice is investigating allegations of sexual abuse made against a priest of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Fort Myers. The alleged incident happened at St. Francis in 1993.

The priest, Reverend Jean Joseph, is accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Father Joseph now works for a church in Holmes Beach, just north of Sarasota.

The Diocese says Father Joseph has been removed from active ministry while the investigation continues.

No one at either church would talk to us, but the Diocese sent us a statement. (read the full statement)

"The Diocese of Venice remains committed to a zero tolerance policy for sexual abuse with a minor. All priests, deacons, lay employees and those volunteers who have contact with children and vulnerable adults must undergo comprehensive background screening that includes fingerprinting."

"We pray for the pain and suffering of all victims. These are very painful times for Father Joseph, the lay faithful as well as the clergy."

Local law enforcement officials say they are not investigating, but will open an investigation if they receive a complaint from someone or the church.

In terms of possible criminal charges, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases ranges from 4 years to no limit at all.

It depends on the nature of the charge, the age of the victim, and other factors.


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