Suncoast Priest Accused of 1993 Sex Act with Minor


December 30, 2008

HOLMES BEACH, FL. - A priest at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct that happened 15 years ago.

The Diocese of Venice says the Rev. Jean Ronald Joseph is accused of sexual misconduct with a minor in 1993 while he was serving at St. Frances Xavier Catholic Church in Ft. Myers.

The priest denies the charges, however, Father Joseph has agreed to remove himself from active ministry while the diocese investigates the charges.

The release from The diocese of Venice reads:

An allegation has been made against the Reverend Jean Ronald Joseph who is a priest in the

Diocese of Venice in Florida. The allegation alleges that sexual misconduct occurred in 1993 between Father Joseph and someone who, at that time, was a minor. (AT THAT TIME HE WAS ON ASSIGNMENT TO ST. FRANCIS XAVIER IN FORT MYERS)

Father Joseph denies the allegation and strenuously maintains his innocence. At Bishop

Dewane's request, Father has agreed to remove himself from active ministry while the diocesan investigation is conducted.

The investigation of this allegation falls under the Policy of the Diocese of Venice in Florida for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults. The said policy conforms to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People approved by the U.S. Catholic Bishops

(November 2002), as well as the Essential Norms for Diocesan Polices Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse approved by the Congregation for Bishops in Rome (December 8, 2002).

Anyone who believes that he or she has been sexually abused as a minor by another person connected with the Diocese of Venice in Florida, or any organization, should contact either law enforcement officials or the individual responsible for Victim Assistance in the Diocese of

Venice in Florida. The Diocese of Venice remains committed to a zero tolerance policy for sexual abuse with a minor.

The Diocese of Venice has complied with its policy to protect against abuse, and to keep a safe environment in our Church. 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. We pray that the Lord of Truth and Light will guide all in His ways! These are very painful times for Father Joseph, the lay faithful as well as the clergy. Let us remain united in prayer.


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