Ex-Altar Boy: Archbishop Kept Abuse Quiet
By Jay Weaver
June 21, 2003
A former altar boy on Friday alleged that a retired Miami archbishop "coerced" him to keep silent nearly 30 years ago when the youth claimed he was sexually abused by a priest at a Catholic residence for teens.
The boy, now an adult of 41, claimed he was repeatedly molested by the Rev. Joseph Huck during the mid-1970s when he was between 12 and 14 years old and living at the Archdiocese of Miami's Boystown compound in West Kendall, according to his lawsuit. The "John Doe" complainant said in the suit that Huck abused him on a fishing trip, in a gym and at other locations.
The man said he told Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy and other priests about the alleged abuse, but got no help. According to the suit, the Catholic leader warned against saying such things about a priest.
"The abuse continued even after he reported it to [church officials]," the man's attorney, Jeffrey Herman, said Friday. "This is one of the clearest cases of gross negligence because there is evidence of direct knowledge by the archdiocese and a complete failure on their behalf to protect this boy."
IN BAD HEALTH
McCarthy, 85, was unavailable for comment Friday because of his poor health, said archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta. McCarthy, who headed the archdiocese from 1976 to 1993, suffers from severe dementia and cardiovascular problems, according to court records.
Huck, 60, could not be reached for comment because he has an unpublished number in Ormond Beach, where he is in retirement. He was ordained in 1969 in the Miami archdiocese and retired as pastor of Our Lady Queen of Heaven in North Lauderdale in May 2002. He had previously served in several Miami-Dade County parishes.
"I don't believe it for a second," Barbara DeLoose, a receptionist at Our Lady Queen of Heaven, said about the allegations.
Agosta said she did not know if Huck was included in a group of 12 local priests who have resigned or been placed on administrative leave since 1998 because of past sexual-abuse allegations.
Since last year, about 24 clergy sex-abuse suits have been filed against the archdiocese and several of its priests.
Agosta said that she had not seen the latest lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, and could not comment on it.
"We take every allegation seriously," she said in a phone interview from a U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference in St. Louis. "The archdiocese will do an internal investigation."
Asked about Herman's accusations regarding McCarthy and other church officials, she said: "Until our attorneys have seen the lawsuit, it's not appropriate for me to comment on any aspect of the case. Time and time again, the archdiocese is the last to know about the lawsuits and is expected to be the first one to comment."
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