Catholic Priest Lands Orlando Diocese in Another Lawsuit

July 20, 2011

[with video]

A Catholic priest landed the Orlando diocese in another lawsuit on Wednesday.

A victim the priest is accused of molesting years ago said the church went back on a promise to make up for the abuse. It's a case that has been a sore spot for the diocese for decades.

The Catholic Diocese settled a case involving former priest, Thomas Sykes, in 2007.

On Wednesday, another victim who reached an agreement out of court, is suing. He said the church promised to cover all his medical bills from that abuse, but on Wednesday his attorney told WFTV that the church suddenly stopped paying and she said it's adding insult to injury.

The victim had a younger brother who committed suicide in 1987. Sykes is the man that the victim alleged sexually abused both brothers.

“Here this priest is the right hand of God. Someone who comes into your home and he's doing these things,” said Jessica Arbour, the victim's attorney.

Arbour said her client is suing the friars of the atonement for not protecting him from Sykes in the early 1970s, when he was a priest and teacher at Bishop Moore High School in Orlando.

Sykes, who is deceased, also had assignments at St. John Vianney Parrish. The Diocese of Orlando is being sued for breach of contract.

The victim reached an out-of-court settlement with the diocese in 1994. According to his lawsuit, it included $50,000 for medical bills incurred as a result of his abuse, and a promise to pay for any additional psychological treatment, indefinitely. But in 2008, victim said the church wanted to be released from any further liability.

"My client didn't sign the release and now they're not paying for treatment," said Arbour.

A spokesperson for the diocese of Orlando said "the diocese will review the complaint and respond appropriately." Adding, "we pray for all those involved in this situation."

A friend of the plaintiff, who identified himself as another victim of Sykes, said what the victim needs is therapy.

"It's been hard for him to get out of bed everyday and find a purpose," said another victim.

In filing the lawsuit, the victim may have found one. The victim has accumulated $30,000 in unpaid medical bills.


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