Venice Catholic priest under investigation, bishop says
By Carlos R. Munoz
November 05, 2018
The Rev. Nick McLoughlin of the Diocese of Venice has been placed on administrative leave while the Diocese of St. Petersburg reviews a complaint of “inappropriate physical contact with a minor” lodged against him.
The Diocese of Venice declined to state the nature McLoughlin’s exact duties before he was suspended.
Bishop Frank Dewane told his parishioners in a letter last weekend that the allegation has “a semblance of truth.” He said the Diocese of Venice was notified by the Diocese of St. Petersburg of the allegation, which was made by a person who would have been a minor at the time McLoughlin served as pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Temple Terrace from 1973 to 1982.
The Diocese of St. Petersburg opened an investigation to determine the facts, Dewane said.
“Because Fr. McLoughlin is now a priest of the Diocese of Venice, this Diocese was also notified and asked to take appropriate action,” Dewane stated. “In accord with the policies of the Diocese of Venice and to allow for an objective review in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fr. McLoughlin has been placed on administrative leave. When the Diocese of St. Petersburg has concluded its investigation, the findings will be presented to the Diocese of Venice.”
In a statement sent to the Herald-Tribune, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of St. Petersburg said that “An allegation of inappropriate physical contact with a minor has been made against Rev. Nicholas McLoughlin, a priest of the Diocese of Venice, who served as pastor of Corpus Christi Parish, Temple Terrace from 1973 to 1982. He previously served as associate pastor of St. John Vianney, St. Pete Beach and pastor of Bishop Barry and Notre Dame High Schools in St. Petersburg from June 1972 to August 1973.
“The alleged incident took place during the 1970s while Father McLoughlin was assigned to Corpus Christi. The Diocese has notified the State Attorney’s office of the allegation. Also, parishioners of Corpus Christi Parish and St. John Vianney Parish received announcements of the allegation the weekend of November 3- 4, 2018.”
Previously, McLoughlin was a co-defendant in two lawsuits involving his brother, Ed McLoughlin, a former priest who was accused of molesting teenage boys in the 1980s and 1990s.
According to the second lawsuit filed in 2010, a former altar boy sued the Diocese of Venice, claiming Ed McLoughlin sexually assaulted him while he was younger than 12 and that officials in the diocese, particularly his brother, Nick McLoughlin, covered up the abuse.
The suit claimed that in fall of 1986, the victim asked Nick McLoughlin for help. At the time, Nick McLoughlin was pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Charlotte County, where his brother, Ed, was assigned.
According to the suit, Nick McLoughlin said he would end the abuse but there would be consequences if the boy, referred to as John Doe in the lawsuit, told anyone else.
Nick McLoughlin denied the allegation and the Charlotte County Circuit Judge George C. Richards ruled the statute of limitations had expired, and that there was no evidence of deterrent actions undertaken by the diocese “or its agents” to prevent the alleged victim from coming forward.
The case was appealed in 2013, and the judge’s decision was re-affirmed in 2014.
At the end of his letter, Dewane asked for prayers from his parishioners for all victims of sexual abuse.
“Let us be united in prayer in these difficult times,” he said in closing.