There are many people who we feel we can trust with our children due to the respected titles they hold. A priest is one such example; however, sometimes even men who hold these positions can be untrustworthy and abuse innocent children. Recently, there has been numerous child sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese throughout this nation on grounds of priests having sexual contact with boys.
How the Diocese Handles Issues of Child Sex Abuse
Although the diocese says it wants to protect children from harm, there are many accounts that point to the diocese’s failure to report such acts or keep the records sealed to protect the church and the abusers. However, in one such child sexual abuse case out of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Fort Myers, a confidential document was leaked by a priest to an accuser’s father.
The 11-page document that was leaked from the Diocese of Venice describes the nature of the sex abuse by Reverend Jean Ronald Joseph on a then 16-year-old boy. This document revealed that the diocese conducted a 4.5 year investigation and found Joseph guilty in a 2013 diocesan trial. As a result of the investigation, Joseph was removed from active ministry, suspended, and had his priestly faculties removed in 2008—immediately after the sex abuse allegations were found credible.
Child Sexual Abuse Secrets Revealed
Although this act of child abuse occurred in 1993 and the reverend was removed from his duties in 2008, communication about this matter would have probably not have been released if it wasn’t for another priest’s action of leaking this document. As a result, the Diocese of Venice is paying the victim—now a 37-year-old man—a six figure settlement after the former father groped him and fondled his genitals when he was 16-years-old.
While the details of this child sexual abuse incident was kept secret for years, this new document revealed that former father Jean Ronald Joseph was reprimanded two times for taking teenage boys on trips and allowing them to stay overnight with him. Additionally, the document shows that the Diocese of Venice was aware of these “red flags” by this priest for 15 years.
Unfortunately, because action wasn’t taken earlier by the church, there could be other child abuse victims who never came forward. If you or your child was abused by a priest, pastor, or other authority figure in the church, you need to know you have rights. It is important to talk with a lawyer experienced in child sexual abuse cases and to read a free copy of our book, When the Unthinkable Happens: Your Guide to Florida Child Abuse Claims.