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    Priest, now dead, accused in scandal

    St. Petersburg diocese officials cite accusations by ''several individuals'' against the Rev. Hubert John Reason, who died in 1984. He served four churches.

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 3, 2002

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Eighteen years after the death of a priest, several people have come forward to say he sexually abused them as minors.

    The Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg said Friday that "several individuals" have made credible accusations against the Rev. Hubert John Reason, who served at St. Patrick in Largo, St. Ignatius of Antioch in Tarpon Springs for 11 years, St. Theresa in Spring Hill and St. Mary Our Lady of Grace in St. Petersburg.

    Mary Jo Murphy, spokeswoman for the diocese, declined to say where the abuse occurred or how many victims were involved.

    "We have promised those that have come forth total anonymity," she said, adding that the accusations were made this year.

    "Because of the current climate, these people have come forth, and we are aiding them in their healing and reconciliation," she said.

    Mrs. Murphy said some victims are receiving counseling but none had asked for or received monetary compensation.

    "There was nothing in his file that would have indicated any accusations of sexual abuse of a minor," Mrs. Murphy said.

    The diocese began a review of clergy files earlier this year.

    Reason is one of several priests who have served in the diocese to have been accused of sexual misconduct since the recent wave of scandals hit the Catholic Church. Born on Oct. 20, 1923, in Miami, he died of natural causes in 1984 while serving as assistant pastor at St. Mary. He converted to Catholicism in 1944 and was ordained in Miami in 1957.

    On recent occasions, the diocese has sent letters to the parishes of accused priests. That will not be done this time, Mrs. Murphy said.

    "The priest has been deceased for 18 years," she said.

    "If there are any other victims, we would like to be of assistance in their healing and reconciliation with the church."

    -- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report.

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