Former Altar Boy Says Priest Molested Him

July 23, 2012

[with video]

ORLANDO, Fla. - A lawsuit was filed Monday against the Catholic Diocese of Orlando by a former altar boy who said he was molested by a priest when he was 14 years old.

The attorney for the man, who is a naval officer, said the molestation took place in 1978.

"What we allege here is that the diocese failed to protect one of its altar boys because it had a priest who was known to be a sexual predator," attorney Adam Horowitz said.

The Rev. William Authenreith was around 41 or 42 years old at the time of the alleged incident, and Horowitz said the abuse happened to several children.

"He allegedly abused children at parishes where he had served for a period of decades," said Horowitz. "It occurred in the sacristy, where the priests and the altar boys prepare for church services. It happened more than one time."

Horowitz said his client had to wait until now to file the lawsuit.

"When you have a situation like this and you have various psychological conditions that go with it, post-traumatic disorder, anxiety and shame, it doesn't lend itself well to be promoted within the military," said Horowitz.

St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rockledge is where the alleged abuse happened, and it is the same parish where three brothers and another boy were allegedly molested. The boys attorney's won a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the diocese in 1987.

A representative for the Orlando Diocese said that the lawsuit had not been served to them on Monday, so officials cannot comment.

However, chancellor for administration Carol Brinati released a statement.

ORLANDO, Fla. - "We believe we have spoken to this alleged victim and his prior lawyer in 2006, and the Diocese of Orlando provided pastoral outreach at that time. We have not heard from this individual or his attorney since 2007," said Brinati.

Once the diocese has been served the lawsuit, Horowitz said it has 20 days to respond.

Authenreith was removed from the ministry in 1985 because of claims of sexual misconduct but was never criminally charged.

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