Diocese Denies Sex Abuse Cover-up

By Peter Linton-Smith
My Fox Tampa Bay
January 13, 2011

TAMPA - A group that speaks out for the victims of sexual abuse is accusing the Catholic Church of a cover-up. They say the St. Pete diocese tried to hide information about a lawsuit accusing a priest of abuse. But the church says the group's facts are wrong.

The abuse is alleged to have happened in the early 1980's at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa. In July of last year, the diocese of St. Petersburg agreed to pay the former church member $75,000 to settle a civil lawsuit.

A group called SNAP, that speaks out for sexual abuse victims, complains the church should have notified every Catholic in the Bay Area about the out-of-court settlement.

"They are to publish those in the bulletins and announce from the pulpit in all the parishes in which that perpetrator served and that was not done," insisted Martha Lorenzo of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Over the phone, diocese spokesman Frank Murphy told FOX 13, "the bishop has taken a very strong position on keeping all parishioners fully informed."

A church spokesman said the complaint is designed to get snap some attention, but he adds in this case snap got some key facts wrong.

"This case did not involve a child and did not fall under the notification procedures," Murphy added.

The priest in question left Christ the King years ago but worked in other churches throughout the Bay Area. Critics say transferring the priest and refusing to acknowledge the settlement amounts to a cover-up.

"It seems like business as usual, instead of being proactive, and instead of coming right out and admitting that certain things took place," Lorenzo said.


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