$25 million lawsuit alleges Fort Lauderdale priest raped boy, 9

Associated Press/September 7, 2005

Fort Lauderdale, Florida -- A Roman Catholic priest previously accused of drugging and raping boys throughout his three decades of work in the Archdiocese of Miami faces new allegations of sexual abuse.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Broward Circuit Court alleges that the Rev. Neil Doherty sexually abused a boy starting when the child was 9 during the 1990s at Margate's St. Vincent's Church.

Under Florida law, there is no statute of limitations if the victim is under 12. The lawsuit seeks $25 million in damages.

Doherty befriended the boy, now 19, after meeting him at St. Vincent's in the mid-1990s, said Jeffrey Herman, the teen's attorney. The teen is identified in court documents only as John Doe 22.

"The priest told him to start smoking pot (to) curb his aggressive behavior," Herman said Tuesday.

The sexual abuse occurred between 1996 and 2000 while the boy was unconscious or semiconscious after bingeing on drugs and alcohol, the lawsuit claims.

Doherty, 62, worked in the archdiocese for three decades before he was placed on administrative leave in April 2002.

"It is a sad day for the Catholic Church when we receive an allegation of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy," the archdiocese said in a statement. "Unfortunately, despite all our efforts to have victims contact us directly, this case was brought to an attorney, so we are not aware of the circumstances."

Doherty has previously been accused of sexually abusing boys, but has never faced criminal charges.

The archdiocese knew about the accusations but didn't tell authorities and allowed him to continue his clergy work with young children, according to church records cited in a prosecutor's memo released in 2003 after an investigation of Doherty, who had been accused of drugging and sexually abusing a 17-year-old Chaminade Madonna High School student in 1978.

In the memo, Broward County prosecutor Dennis Siegel wrote there were two other accusations against Doherty, one in 1979 and the other in 1987. He also cited a $50,000 settlement the archdiocese reached with the Chaminade student in 1994

Two years ago, a former student at Fort Lauderdale's St. Anthony Catholic School alleged that Doherty plied him with prescription drugs, then raped him more than a dozen times in 1976 when he was 12 years old.

In a lawsuit filed Aug. 17, a Fort Lauderdale man accused Doherty of drugging and raping him several in the 1960s, beginning when he was 11.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.