The Sun Sentinel (Florida)
7:13 p.m. EDT, October 24, 2012
By James D. DavisStaff writer
A 34-year-old man filed suit Tuesday against the Archdiocese of Miami, saying a priest molested him when he was a teenager living in Hollywood.
In the lawsuit, Tony Simmons alleges that the Rev. Rolando Garcia initiated a sexual relationship with him around 1994, when Garcia was at Little Flower Church in Hollywood and Simmons was a 16-year-old runaway. The document names the alleged victim only as John Doe No. 95, but Simmons identified himself as the plaintiff in a phone talk brokered by his attorney, Jeff Herman.
“I’ve got a daughter and a boy that’s coming,” said Simmons, who lives in Charlottesville, Va. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Garcia is currently pastor at St. Agatha Catholic Church in Miami. The archdiocese’s communication office declined direct comment on the case, instead emailing a brief statement: “Mr. Herman has filed several lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Miami involving Father Garcia, and yet to date, none have been proven credible.”
According to the lawsuit, Garcia found the teenager praying at the church and offered him food and counseling, then sexually abused him. That grew into a relationship of several years involving movies, concerts, alcohol, pornography, “oral sex and sodomy,” the lawsuit says.
The two stayed in touch even after Simmons’ military service from 2003-2010. But Simmons kept quiet, he said, because “I honestly thought I was the only person. And if it came out, I could lose my job.”
He changed his mind Oct. 15 after the priest told him of another accusation, then laughed about it, Simmons said. “That sent chills down my spine.”