Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:16PM
The Archdiocese of Miami said on Wednesday that Father Rolando Garcia was placed on leave after they learned that he had been accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old runaway boy.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Tony Simmons recalled that Garcia began abusing him in 1994 at the Church of the Little Flower in Hollywood. Simmons said that the Catholic priest first offered him food and counseling. Over time, Garcia plied him with movies, concerts, alcohol and pornography, which eventually led to sexual abuse.
Simmons explained that he was afraid to speak out because he lived and worked as a painter at the church.
“I honestly thought I was the only person,” he told reporters. “And if it came out, I could lose my job.”
Garcia continued to stay in contact with Simmons even after he joined the military in 2003. But on Oct. 15, Simmons said he changed his mind about coming forward when Garcia laughed while telling him that others had also accused him of pedophilia.
In the lawsuit, Simmons alleged that the archdiocese knew about the abuse of him and other victims. He is asking for over $5 million in compensation.
Attorney Jeff Herman, who represents Simmons, has filed three other lawsuits against Garcia in the past 7 years, two of which were settled out of court. Garcia was temporarily placed on leave due to a third lawsuit, but he was reinstated after passing a lie detector test.
St. Agatha Catholic Church, where Garcia was currently serving as pastor, referred all questions to the archdiocesan communications office.
“The Archdiocese will offer counseling to the alleged victim and conduct an investigation following procedures outlined in ‘Protecting God’s Children’ [policy],” the communications office said in a statement. Raw Story
FACTS & FIGURES
The Catholic Church has been rocked in recent decades by accusations that it tried to cover up the sexual abuse of children by priests and has paid out billions in settlements to abuse victims, bankrupting several U.S. dioceses. Daily Star
Sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests has been widely reported throughout the world, with the countries of Canada, Ireland, United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Belgium, France, Germany and Australia receiving the most attention. The United States and Ireland are the only countries that conducted nationwide inquiries. digitaljournal.com
In the U.S., Ireland, the Channel Islands, the list seems to go on and on — new sordid stories of child sexual abuse are being investigated, at times, linking to a disturbing hierarchy of silence in institutions which were considered “sacred,” — be it the Catholic Church, the BBC or even Penn State football. Huffington Post
The majority of the sexual abuse by Catholic priests takes place with children between the ages of 11 and 14. Huffington Post
Miami priest suspended over alleged abuse
Published: Oct. 25, 2012 at 4:06 PM
MIAMI, Oct. 25 (UPI) — The archdiocese of Miami has suspended a Roman Catholic priest accused by an Iraq War veteran of molesting him in the 1990s.
The suspension, announced late Wednesday, was a change of course for the archdiocese, the Miami Herald reported. Earlier, church officials had accused the news media of being too ready to believe a lawyer who had filed several lawsuits against the Rev. Rolando Garcia that had not been found credible.
Tony Simmons, at a news conference this week, said he encountered Garcia in 1994 when he was a runaway and only 16. He said the priest, then at the Church of the Little Flower in Hollywood, Fla., helped him initially but then sexually abused him.
After Garcia became pastor of St. Agatha Catholic Church in Miami, the priest hired him as a painter, Simmons said. He said he worked there for two years.
“He controlled my job. He controlled where I lived. I was trapped,” Simmons told reporters outside the church. “If I didn’t do it then, you know, I don’t have a job, and if I don’t have a job, nowhere to live.”
Simmons, now 34, joined the Army in 2003. His lawyer said he was decorated for his service.
His lawyer, Jerry Herman, has filed dozens of lawsuits against the archdiocese, including four naming Garcia as an abuser. While the church has settled many of the suits. officials have maintained the victims are not credible.