2 Men File Sex Abuse Suits against Miami Archdiocese

By Toluse Olurunnipa
Miami Herald
October 1, 2009

In the latest of a string of lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Miami, two priests have been accused of sexually abusing two young boys in the 1960s.

Two men have filed lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Miami alleging they were sexually abused by priests 40 years ago at a Miami rectory and a Boystown facility.

One of the men, identified as ``John Doe 66,'' said he was molested by the Rev. Neil Flemming at the age of 14 and by the Rev. Neil Doherty four years later when he came to the Archdiocese to get counseling for the earlier abuse.

The other man, identified as ``John Doe 65'' in the suit, says Doherty drugged and raped him in 1965, soon after he was taken to Boystown following the death of his parents.

``It's time for the Archdiocese of Miami to be responsible for what has happened to them,'' said Jessica Arbour, a lawyer representing one of the men. ``[Flemming] kept John Doe 66 in the rectory for two days and did things that never should be done to a child.''

Boystown of Florida was also named in the suit.


The Archdiocese has faced multiple allegations of sexual abuse, with more than a dozen lawsuits accusing Doherty, 66, of pedophilia. At least half a dozen cases involving Doherty, a former priest at St. Vincent Catholic Church in Margate, have been settled in recent years.

In a 2004 lawsuit, Flemming, now 78, was accused of abusing an orphan who was staying at a Boystown facility in West Kendall in the 1970s. That case was also settled.The Archdiocese of Miami issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

``Both Father Neil Doherty and Father Neil Fleming retired in 2002 without faculties; they are not permitted to wear clerical garb, celebrate the sacraments or have an assignment,'' said Mary Ross Agosta, spokeswoman for the archdiocese. ``The Archdiocese of Miami offers to assist anyone who has been a victim of abuse by a member of the church.''


It is unclear whether the Archdiocese of Miami and Boystown can be held legally responsible for any abuse that priests may have committed.

The Third District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Archdiocese of Miami last month in a ruling that suggests employers of pedophiles can't be sued for negligence leading to abuse.

Arbour said the law surrounding this issue is ``unclear'' and that the case would move forward, adding that the men have experienced ongoing trauma in the years since the abuse.

``It doesn't stop when the abuse stops,'' she said. ``In a sense, that's where the next phase begins.''


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