[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Back
Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times

Rape report to remain a secret

By STEPHEN NOHLGREN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 22, 2003

Catholic leaders know of one abusive priest they have yet to make public.

He raped a 16-year-old parishioner decades ago in Pinellas County. She went home, had dinner and told no one until three years ago.

When church leaders think abuse has occurred, they usually send letters to the priest's former parishes, inviting other potential victims to get counseling and support.

In this case, though, the woman didn't want news of her rape spread around the church where it happened. She just wanted the priest removed from the ministry.

The priest admitted the rape when the woman confronted him as an adult. She brought along a trusted friend, also a priest, who witnessed the admission. So church leaders believed her.

But they couldn't search for other potential victims without alienating her.

"Our policy is we do make an announcement whenever we think there is a risk of additional victims," says diocese attorney Joseph DiVito. "As with any policy, there are exceptions and this is one of them."

The woman and church leaders separately told the Times she probably was the priest's only victim in this diocese. Unusual circumstances support their position -- circumstances that also would tend to identify the woman if the priest were named.

Back then, St. Petersburg was part of the St. Augustine diocese. Soon after the rape, the priest moved far from the Tampa Bay area. When the woman revealed her secret three years ago, the priest was working in the Orlando diocese. He was immediately removed and the Orlando diocese paid the woman a financial settlement. The priest now lives out of the country.

Like St. Petersburg, the Orlando diocese never mentioned the rape allegation in parishes where the priest had served.

The priest denied the allegations to his superiors, "but based its own investigation, the Diocese of Orlando asked (the priest) to leave," says spokeswoman Carol Brinati. "The incident occurred 30 years ago and took place in Pinellas County. We do not know if the woman reported the incident to law enforcement."

Print story Reuse or republish Subscribe to the Times

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Back to Tampa Bay area news
Back
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
 
Special Links
Mary Jo Melone
Howard Troxler


Headlines
From the Times
local news desks
  • Four seniors named winners of Times scholarships
  • Iraq: Unfurling the past to honor them
  • Iraq: Politics divide mother, daughter
  • Water Q&A
  • Engineers warned of weak pipe
  • Terror Indictments: Witnesses vouch for Al-Arian's character
  • Iraq: Assassinated leader's wife urges peace
  • Iraq: Surplus sales surge, but not to 9/11 heights
  • Iraq: Varied missions radiate from base
  • Iraq: Families keep their guard up
  • Forever altered
  • Spring debuts with a slosh
  • Political junkie: Consultant seeking positive relationship with Scientologists
  • Tampa subregional: What's basketball without madness?
  • Mother and 3 children injured in accident
  • Obituary: Philanthropist, avid Yankees fan
  • Rape report to remain a secret

  •