Group Asks Diocese of Orlando to Expose Sexually Abusive Priests

By Walter Pacheco
Orlando Sentinel
January 22, 2010,0,3529891.story

ORLANDO (FL) -- A national group is pressuring the Diocese of Orlando to publicly expose its priests accused of sexual abuse. Two cases pending in Orange County.

A national group is asking the Diocese of Orlando to go public with names of any priests accused of sexual abuse.

Three members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) stood outside the diocese's office on Robinson Street in downtown Orlando on Friday with a 109-page document about Josť Mena — a former priest who is the subject of two pending lawsuits against the Diocese of Orlando.

SNAP national director David Clohessy told diocese officials he wanted to hand-deliver a letter to Bishop Thomas Wenski but was told Wenski was in Haiti. The letter, which Clohessy shared with the media, urged Wenski to "warn families about him [Mena] and help find victims who've been assaulted by him."

"We want him [Wenski] to do more than the absolute bare minimum," Clohessy said. "We want him to come out and aggressively seek predators."

Carol Brinati of the Diocese of Orlando declined comment. She confirmed that Wenski is in Haiti.

Members of SNAP said exposing sexually abusive priests might help other victims come forward and get help, as well as stopping those priests from abusing others.

Two lawsuits filed in Orange County Court in 2008 accuse Mena of sexually assaulting altar boys in the 1960s and 1970s. Each victim seeks damages in excess of $5 million.

A third law suit, filed in December against the diocese and Mena, was settled by the diocese for an undisclosed amount. The abuse allegation in that case dates to when victim was a minor at Resurrection in Winter Garden in the 1970s.

Court records show the victim of a fourth lawsuit filed against Mena in 2005 reached a joint settlement with the Diocese of St. Augustine and other entities for $150,000.

Brinati has said Mena served in four parishes in the nine-county Orlando diocese.

"It's terrible when they move a priest known for these activities from one church to another," Clohessy said.

Mena, now 81, left active ministry sometime around 2002, according to earlier reports. His last residence is listed in Jacksonville, but some reports show he might have returned to his native Spain.

Walter Pacheco can be reached at or 407-420-6262.


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