Man Comes Forward Claiming Abuse from Priest

October 5, 2010

[with video]

A former alter boy claims he was sexually abused by a South Florida priest decades ago and is now suing the Archdiocese of Miami.

"I just want to warn these children that have already been abused that they need to come out," said Willard Trent.

Trent is 55 years old now, but he said the alleged abuse happened when he was 12 and 13. He is suing the Archdiocese of Miami for $5 million. "It is a terrible thing. It hurts you deep inside. You never forget it," Trent revealed.

According to Trent, he was sexually abused multiple times while serving as an altar boy at St. John the Baptist Parish in Fort Lauderdale by Father Thomas Dennehy, who passed away back in 1999.

In 1967 and 1968, when the alleged abuse happened, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church was part of Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, but Trent said, he suppressed the memories until he went to church last year. "Memories just started trickling in. They just kept coming and coming like a nightmare and hit me like a ton of bricks."

"On some occasions Father Dennehy had him dress up in a school uniform from Cardinal Gibbons and assaulted him," said Jeffrey Herman, the alleged victim's attorney.

The Archdiocese of Miami responded to the allegations against Father Dennehy, who was the first principal at Cardinal Gibbons High School and also worked at several other schools over a 35 year period, with a statement.

The statement reads, in part: 'No other allegations have been reported against Father Dennehy. As always, the Catholic Church's concerns are for the victims and a prevailing sense of justice. In addition, over these past eight years, the Archdiocese has been forthcoming and taken steps to keep our children safe through training and background screenings."

"There are two wrongdoers here, the priests and the Archdiocese of Miami for covering it up," said Herman.

Trent said he is coming forward to expose the sins of the father. "I don't want to see this happen to any other child again."

The Archdiocese claims that they tried to contact Trent five times and offer him counseling, but Trent said that did not happen.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.