Florida Clergy Abuse State Investigation
In 2018, the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution (OSP) launched a clergy abuse investigation. The OSP initiated the investigation shortly after Pennsylvania published its grand jury report.
For two years, the OSP collected allegations of clergy abuse from survivors and witnesses. The OSP investigated every reported claim and documented allegation. Additionally, the OSP interviewed survivors, witnesses and church officials.
On November 6, 2020, the OSP released the final report of the investigation.
Key Results Of Florida Clergy Abuse Investigation
- The investigation found no evidence that any child in Florida “is currently in immediate danger of sexual abuse by priests.”
- The report identified 97 priests accused of sexual abuse in Florida.
- The investigation found the Catholic Church relocated many abusive priests from other States to Florida dioceses.
Unfortunately, the OSP is unable to prosecute any of the 97 abusive priests in Florida for one of two reasons:
- The legal deadline to press criminal charges against the priest is expired.
- The priest is deceased.
Although the OSP is no longer able to prosecute these claims, survivors may still be able to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser or the responsible dioceses. Submit a free case evaluation to determine if you have a viable legal claim.
Florida Priest Abuse Lawsuits
As more cases of priest abuse are uncovered, victims are seeking legal justice. Survivors across the country have filed clergy abuse lawsuits against abusive priests and responsible Catholic dioceses.
Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Against Florida Dioceses
Lawsuits Against The Miami Archdiocese
In 2015, the Miami Archdiocese faced two sexual abuse lawsuits. The latter of the two lawsuits sought damages of $5 million from the archdiocese.
Lawsuit Against The Orlando Diocese
In 2014, a survivor filed a lawsuit against the Orlando Diocese. The plaintiff claimed he was molested during the 1970s when he was 13 years old. The perpetrator was a priest serving in the Orlando Diocese. The diocese faced nearly 20 priest abuse lawsuits prior to this 2014 claim.
To press criminal charges against an abusive priest or file a civil lawsuit against said priest or the responsible diocese, a survivor must follow the state’s statute of limitations.
In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for clergy abuse survivors seeking legal action will depend on several variables:
- The applicable legal deadline will depend on whether the survivor intends to bring criminal charges or a civil claim against their abuser.
- The applicable legal deadline will depend on when the abuse took place.
- The applicable legal deadline will depend on the age of the survivor at the time of the abuse.
- The applicable legal deadline will depend on the circumstances of the abuse.
The statutes outlined below cover felony sexual battery against victims under the age of 18.
Florida law defines sexual battery as “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object.” The law excludes an act done for medical reasons.
Florida Child Sexual Abuse Civil Statute
In the state of Florida, there is no civil statute of limitations for sexual battery offenses committed against victims younger than 16 years old.
If a victim was 16 or 17 years old at the time of the abuse, they have until age 25 to file a civil lawsuit.
Florida Child Sexual Abuse Criminal Statute
In 2020, Florida lawmakers passed “Donna’s Law.” This law eliminated the criminal statute of limitations for felony sexual battery against victims under the age of 18. However, this law is not retroactive. Thus, the eliminated statute only applies to cases of felony child sexual battery that occurred after July 1, 2020.
Sexual offenses against minors that occurred prior to July 1, 2020, must follow previous criminal statutes.
What Is the Difference Between a Criminal Case and Civil Lawsuit?
If the abuser (defendant) is found guilty in a criminal case, they may face probation or time in prison. The victim (plaintiff) would only receive money if the court requires the defendant to pay restitution to the plaintiff.
If the abuser (defendant) is found liable in a civil case, they must pay a monetary award to the victim (plaintiff). The amount of the award is determined by the jury. The award covers any damages caused by the abuse.
Settlements Paid By Florida Dioceses
Florida dioceses have faced clergy child sex abuse claims for decades, resulting in many large settlements:
- In 2002, the Diocese of Venice reported paying $1.5 million to victims of clergy abuse over an 18-year period.
- In 2004, the Diocese of Orlando reported paying $4.2 million in settlements to address abuse allegations dating between 1968 and 2002.
- In 2004, the Archdiocese of Miami agreed to pay nearly $3.5 million to settle priest sexual abuse claims.
- In 2005, the Diocese of Orlando and the Diocese of St. Augustine agreed to pay $1.5 million to three victims of priest abuse. The Orlando Diocese was originally part of the St. Augustine Diocese when the abuse took place. Thus, the dioceses each agreed to pay half of the settlement.
- In 2011, the Diocese of St. Petersburg reported paying $4.7 million to settle priest sexual abuse claims. This sum includes settlement payouts, legal bills and victim counseling fees.
List Of Accused Priests In Florida
This list below includes the names of clergy members and Florida priests facing sexual abuse allegations. It does not include other diocesan employees or volunteers facing abuse claims. Additionally, the list does not name accused parishioners in the Florida dioceses.
If you or a loved one experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a Florida priest or clergy member, you may have legal rights. Our attorneys can help you understand your options for compensation and justice.
There are 40 accused clergy members from the Archdiocese of Miami, FL:
- Arandia, Arnulfo
- Calimari, Joseph
- Carrera, Francisco
- Cassetta, Charles
- Castellanos, Ricardo
- Castillo, Rolando
- Cinesi, Joseph
- D'Angelo, Rocco Charles
- Dennehy, Thomas
- Doherty, Neil
- Eggleton, Christopher T.
- Engbers, Thomas J.
- Escala, Rafael
- Fernandez, Miguel A.
- Flemming, James
- Garcia, Rolando G.
- Garcia-Rubio, Ernesto
- Gonzalez-Abreu, Hector
- Guerrero, Joaquin
- Guichard, Alvaro
- Harris, L. Yates
- Huck, Joseph
- Joan Marie, Sister
- Jove, Pedro
- Kershner, Joseph J.
- LaCerra, Gerard T. "Gerry"
- Malicki, Jan
- Mercieca, Anthony
- Miyares, Gustavo J.
- Nickse, Jose Pablo
- O'Brien, Kevin
- O'Farrill, Juan Ramon
- Parlangeli, Anthony
- Puertas, Cristobal de Jesus
- Ringenberger, Harry
- Smith, Trevor
- Sokol, Edward
- Walk, Donald J.
- Walsh, Bryan O.
- Ward, Kenneth
There are 13 accused clergy members from the Diocese of Orlando, FL:
There are 23 accused clergy members from the Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL:
- Acosta, Jorge
- Allen, Richard J.
- Appleby, Russell Gerald
- Balthazar, Norman G.
- Berko, Matthew
- Bernabe, Polienato
- Burke (St. Petersburgh, FL), William Michael
- Casula, John
- Clementi, Innocente
- Hernandez, Ramon
- Hidding, Thomas J.
- Lara, James C.
- Lau, William A.
- Luka, Ronald John
- McLoughlin, Nicholas
- Mulryan, Thomas
- O'Donnell, Terence (Terry)
- Reason, Hubert John
- Rhodes, Michael
- Rogge, Norman J.
- Schaeufele, Robert L.
- Spillane, Jeremiah M.
- Tuoc, Ignatius
There are several reasons you may not be able to find the name you are searching for on our list of priests accused of abuse in Florida:
- The priest may be listed in another state or diocese.
- Allegations against the priest may not have been investigated yet.
If you believe the priest you are searching for may be listed under another state or diocese, search our nationwide database of accused Catholic priests and clergy members.
However, you may still be able to file a lawsuit against your abuser, even if they are not listed in our database. Consult our legal team today to learn more about your options.
Florida Priest Abuse Victim Resources
Every county in the state of Florida provides resources for survivors of sexual violence. Use our table below to find victim resources in your county.
Florida Sexual Violence Programs By County
|County||Facility Name||Phone Number(s)|
|Alachua||Victim Services And Rape Crisis Center||Hotline: 352-264-6760
|Baker||Women’s Center of Jacksonville||Hotline: 904-721-7273
|Bay||Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program||Hotline: 1-866-218-4738|
|Bradford||Victim Services And Rape Crisis Center||Hotline: 352-264-6760
|Brevard||Sexual Assault Victim Services (SAVS)Women’s Center of Brevard||Hotline: 321-784-HELP (4357)|
|Broward||Nancy J. Cotterman Center||Hotline: 954-761-RAPE (7273)|
|Calhoun||Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program||Hotline: 1-866-218-4738|
|Charlotte||The Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies, Inc.||Hotline: 941-627-6000
|Clay||Quigley House, Inc.||Hotline: 904-284-0061
|Collier||Project HELP, Inc.||Hotline: 239-262-7227
|Columbia||Another Way, Inc.||Hotline: 1-866-875-7983|
|DeSoto||Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center, Inc. (SPARCC)||Hotline: 941-365-1976|
|Dixie||Another Way, Inc.||Hotline: 1-866-875-7983|
|Duval||Women’s Center of Jacksonville||Hotline: 904-721-7273
|Escambia||Victim Services/Sexual Violence Program|
Lakeview Center, Inc.
|Flagler||Family Life Center||Hotline: 386-437-3505
|Franklin||Refuge House||Hotline: 850-681-2111
|Gadsden||Refuge House||Hotline: 850-681-2111
|Gilchrist||Another Way, Inc.||Hotline: 1-866-875-7983|
|Glades||Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. (ACT)||Hotline: 1-888-956-7273|
|Gulf||Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program||Hotline: 1-866-218-4738|
|Hamilton||Another Way, Inc.||Hotline: 1-866-875-7983|
Peace River Center
|Hendry||Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. (ACT)||Hotline: 1-888-956-7273|
|Hernando||Dawn Center of Hernando County||Hotline: 352-686-8430
Peace River Center
|Hillsborough||Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Inc.||Office: 813-964-1964|
|Holmes||Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program||Hotline: 1-866-218-4738|
|Indian River||Sexual Assault Assistance Program of the Treasure Coast||Hotline: 1-866-828-7273|
|Jackson||Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program||Hotline: 1-866-218-4738|
|Jefferson||Refuge House||Hotline: 850-681-2111
|Lafayette||Another Way, Inc.||Hotline: 1-866-875-7983|
|Lake||Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties, Inc.||Hotline: 352-787-1379
|Lee||Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Inc. (ACT)||Hotline: 239-939-3112|
|Leon||Refuge House||Hotline: 850-681-2111
|Levy||Another Way, Inc.||Hotline: 1-866-875-7983|
|Liberty||Refuge House||Hotline: 850-681-2111
|Madison||Refuge House||Hotline: 850-584-8808
|Marion||The Ocala Sexual Assault Center||Hotline: 352-622-8495
|Martin||Sexual Assault Assistance Program of the Treasure Coast||Hotline: 1-866-828-7273|
|Miami-Dade||M.U.J.E.R. Inc. (Mujeres, Unidas, en Justicia, Educacion, y Reforma, Women, United in Justice, Education, and Reform)||Hotline: 305-763-2459
|Miami-Dade||Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center (RTC)||Hotline: 305-585-RAPE (7273)|
|Nassau||Women’s Center of Jacksonville||Hotline: 904-721-7273
|Okaloosa||Shelter House||Hotline: 850-226-2027
|Okeechobee||Sexual Assault Assistance Program of the Treasure Coast||Hotline: 1-866-828-7273|
|Orange||Victim Service Center of Central Florida||Hotline: 407-500-HEAL (4325)
|Osceola||Victim Service Center of Central Florida||Hotline: 407-500-HEAL (4325)
|Palm Beach||Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center||Hotline: 561-833-7273|
|Pasco||Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc.|
Domestic & Sexual Violence Center
Hotline: 1-888-668-RAPE (7273)
|Pinellas||Sexual Assault Services of Pinellas County|
Suncoast Center, Inc.
Peace River Center
|Putnam||Florida Department of Health in Putnam County||Hotline: 386-983-1358
|St. Johns||Betty Griffin Center||Hotline: 904-824-1555|
|St. Lucie||Sexual Assault Assistance Program of the Treasure Coast||Hotline: 1-866-828-7273|
|Santa Rosa||Victim Services/Sexual Violence Program|
Lakeview Center, Inc.
|Sarasota||Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center, Inc. (SPARCC)||Hotline: 941-365-1976
|Seminole||Victim Service Center of Central Florida||Hotline: 407-500-HEAL (4325)
|Sumter||Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties, Inc.||Hotline: 352-787-1379
|Suwannee||Another Way, Inc.||Hotline: 1-866-875-7983|
|Taylor||Refuge House||Hotline: 850-584-8808
|Union||Victim Services And Rape Crisis Center||Hotline: 352-264-6760
|Volusia||Volusia Rape Crisis Center||Hotline: 800-503-7621
|Wakulla||Refuge House||Hotline: 850-681-2111
|Walton||Shelter House||Hotline: 850-226-2027
|Washington||Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program||Hotline: 1-866-218-4738|
*We were unable to identify sexual violence resource programs in the Florida counties of Citrus and Monroe as of December 21, 2020. Please call or visit centers in the surrounding counties to seek help. You may also call your local law enforcement agency if you are in danger.
How Do I Report Sexual Abuse By A Priest In Florida?
Reporting Child Abuse To Law Enforcement Or State Officials
If you suspect a victim is in danger, call 911 immediately.
You can report suspected child abuse, including child sexual abuse, to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) by calling 1-800-962-2873. You can also make a report online at myflfamilies.com.
Although the OSP completed its initial clergy abuse investigation, the state Attorney General’s Office is still accepting tips about clergy sex abuse. You can report suspected abuse to the hotline at 1-866-966-7226 or submit an online complaint.
Visit our resource page for more information about reporting sexual abuse or assault. For additional assistance, our experienced attorneys can support you throughout the reporting and legal claims process.
Reporting Clergy Abuse To Individual Florida Dioceses
Each diocese has its own process for reporting sexual abuse.
Report Sexual Abuse To The Miami Archdiocese
To report sexual abuse to the archdiocese, victims or witnesses can call the Archdiocese of Miami’s Office of Safe Environment Hotline at 1-866-802-2873.
Visit the Archdiocese of Miami’s website to learn more about reporting suspected abuse.
Report Sexual Abuse To The Orlando Diocese
Randy Means is the Orlando Diocese Victim Assistance Coordinator. To speak with him directly about sexual abuse in the diocese, call 407-246-7179.
Report Sexual Abuse To The Palm Beach Diocese
Lisa Linnell is the Palm Beach Diocese Victim Assistance Coordinator. Contact her directly by calling 561-775-9558.
For more information about reporting sexual abuse to the diocese, visit the Palm Beach Diocese’s website.
Report Sexual Abuse To The Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese
To report sexual abuse committed by a priest, deacon or administrator of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, call the Diocesan Abuse Reporting Hotline at 850-435-3536. You can also make a report by emailing [email protected].
Visit the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese’s website to learn more about reporting sexual abuse.
Report Sexual Abuse To The St. Augustine Diocese
Report Sexual Abuse To The St. Petersburg Diocese
To report sexual abuse committed by church personnel within the St. Petersburg Diocese, call the Victim Assistance Hotline at 1-866-407-4505.
Learn more about reporting abuse by visiting the St. Petersburg Diocese website.
Report Sexual Abuse To The Venice Diocese
Susan Benton is the Venice Diocese Victim Assistance Coordinator. You can report sexual abuse committed by a clergy member, diocesan employee or volunteer of the Venice Diocese by calling her at 941-416-6114.
Visit the Venice Diocese’s website to learn more about reporting sexual abuse.
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Meneo Group managing partner: Ron Meneo
Ron Meneo is the managing partner of The Meneo Law Group. With more than 40 years of experience, he represents clients across the country on a variety of complex legal matters, including personal injury due to institutional sexual abuse, unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and other practice areas. He is a recipient of Martindale-Hubbell’s prestigious AV® Preeminent Rating. He has also served as an editor and contributor for several legal journals.
Archdiocese of Miami. (N.D.) Protecting God’s Children. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
Batchelor, A. (2015, May 20). Lawsuit filed against Archdiocese of Miami in sexual assault case. Local 10 News.
Catholic Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. (N.D.) Report Abuse. Updated August, 28 2019. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. (N.D.) How to File an Abuse Complaint. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
ChildUSA. (2020, February 13). Florida Child Sex Abuse SOLs. Updated May, 6 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
Diocese of Orlando. (N.D.) Safe Environment Coordinators. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
Diocese of Palm Beach. (N.D.) Office of Safe Environments. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
Diocese of St. Augustine. (2020, January 13). Reporting Abuse. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
Diocese of Venice. (N.D.) Abuse Reporting/Reportar. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
Donna’s Law, HB 199, (Florida 2020).
Florida Department of Children and Families. (N.D.) Home.
Kunerth, J. (2014, August 13). Orlando Catholic Diocese sued again over sexual abuse. The Orlando Sentinel.
Moore, W.A. (2011, June 3). Abuse claims have cost millions. Herald Tribune.
Office of Statewide Prosecution (2020, November 6). Report on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church in Florida [PDF].
Online Sunshine. (N.D.) The 2020 Florida Statutes. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
Pinsky, M.I. (2005, July 12). 2 dioceses to settle in sex-abuse lawsuit. The Orlando Sentinel.
Shrieves, L., O’Connell, L. (2004, February 8). Sex Abuse Has Cost Diocese Millions. The Orlando Sentinel.
Waugh, D. (2020, November 9). Due to statute of limitations, Florida AG’s Catholic Church inquiry ends in no new arrests. CBS 12 News.
(2004, July 6). Miami Diocese Settles Suits. CBS News.