Rev. Neil Doherty Hit with $100 Million Judgment in Miami Catholic Church Sex Abuse Suit

By Kyle Munzenrieder
Miami New Times
November 10, 2011

A local jury has returned a $100 million judgment in a civil lawsuit against Rev. Neil Dohetry, a former Catholic priest with the Archdiocese of Miami. Although the money might be impossible to collect, the judgment is the biggest ever levied in a case concerning the sexual abuse of children by a priest.

Doherty has now been accused by 26 male victims who claim he drugged and raped them when they were young boys. The victims also claim the Archdiocese of Miami covered up Doherty's crimes and allowed them to continue.

Thirty-six priests in the archdiocese's history have been publicly accused of sexually abusing children, but Doherty's crimes might be among the worst.

According to other lawsuits, Doherty's alleged monstrous behavior dates back to at least 1972, when he legally adopted a teenage boy and was believed to have often slept in the same bed with him. The church did little to investigate. Several others accusations of child abuse surfaced, but the archdiocese did nothing to notify authorities until 2002. Doherty voluntarily retired in 2004.

Jessica Arbour, an attorney representing the victim in this case as well as many others, told the Miami Herald she believes that more than 400 priests in South Florida might have sexually abused children since 1957.

The victim in this case says he was abused by Doherty beginning in 1986 when he was just 14 years old. The jury awarded the victim $10 million in compensatory damages and hit Doherty with an additional $90 million in punitive damages.

Several other suits have been filed against the archdiocese, but the Church has elected to settle those out of court.

Doherty sits in a Broward County jail on charges in another abuse case. He has pleaded not guilty.


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