New Allegations against Former Fort Myers Catholic Priest

By George Solis
August 19, 2014


New allegations came to light Tuesday against a former Catholic priest in Fort Myers.

The church found him guilty of sexually abusing a boy and now he's accused of inappropriate behavior with other children.

A first victim stepped forward in 2008, saying Ronald Joseph abused him when he was just 16-years-old at Saint Francis Xavier near downtown Fort Myers.

Diocese leaders conducted their own investigation and removed him from the church - we discovered new information that reveals there could be other victims.

Once again all eyes are on Saint Francis Xaiver Catholic Church in Fort Myers.

Nearly six years ago the church was under scrutiny after allegations of sexual abuse first surfaced. They revolved around Rev. Jean Ronald Joseph.

The accusations including sexual misconduct with a minor that allegedly happened at Saint Francis Xaiver in 1993.

Now, 21 years after the abuse happened and after adamant denials by the reverend who publicly named his accuser - documents say otherwise.

"I know the Diocese of Venice did not want these documents to see the light of day, they had the opportunity to disclose it when it was released last year," said Adam Horowitz, who represents the victim who was 16-years-old at the time.

Horowitz says he obtained these confidential documents from a clergyman at the diocese committed to proving the victim's innocence

"Their own independent investigation found that my client was telling the truth, and never did they undo that horrific event that occurred," he said.

But that's not all the documents say, in the 12-page report multiple interviews outline red flags of inappropriate conduct over several years with young boys including instances of sleeping with them in the rectory, and cases of flirting with boys on trips to Haiti.

"This is not only a case of Father Joseph who is a predator and harmed a child there are people within the Diocese and officials who failed to do their civil and moral duty," said Barbara Dorris, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Officials from SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - are stunned by these findings and even more shocked that the evidence didn't come to light sooner.

We have learned there was a six-figure settlement in the case and Tuesday the diocese issued a statement defending its investigation and making note that Joseph - who was dismissed as a priest - is appealing his case to the Vatican.

Send a story error/correction notification

We take all of the elements of our stories seriously. Please tell us about any errors you find. Copy the page address above before clicking on this link to fill out the form. If you're looking to comment on a story you've seen or read, email that to








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