A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Miami claims a well-known priest sexually abused a boy at least 150 times at a Pompano Beach church.
The lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, seeks more than $5 million in compensation fees for John Dorman, the alleged victim. Jeff Herman, the attorney in the case, said the alleged victim wanted to be identified to the public.
The lawsuit names Father Ricardo Castellanos, a retired priest, and claims he abused Dorman when he was a 10-year-old boy working at San Isidro Church.
“For the majority of my life I’ve dealt with it in secret and I’ve had that burden on me. Today is the day I’m taking that burden off of me and I’m putting it back on Ricardo Castellanos and the Archdiocese and the people that are responsible for it,” Dorman, 27, said by phone during a news conference Wednesday.
The Archdiocese of Miami said an internal board was reviewing the allegations and counseling would be offered to the alleged victim.
"As always the church's concerns are for the victims and a prevailing sense of justice, In addition, over these past 10 years, the Archdiocese has been forthcoming and taken steps to keep children safe through training and background screenings of all its employees," the Archdiocese said in a statement.
A call placed to Castellanos’ last known residence was not returned.
According to the lawsuit, Castellanos abused Dorman regularly between 1994 and 1997. In several instances, Castellanos allegedly made Dorman watch as he sexually abused a mentally disabled boy and sometimes made Dorman perform sexual acts with the boy, the lawsuit states.
Castellanos repeatedly warned the boy to keep the abuse a secret or else he said he would tell people it was Dorman who wanted to engage in sexual activities and that they viewed pornography together, the lawsuit alleges.
“This has been devastating for our entire family,” said Chris Dorman, John’s mother. “It’s the thing that parents never wants to think can happen to their child and to have happened from someone that we trusted and we felt cared for us and loved us as a family is betrayal beyond words.”
Dorman had worked in the church since he was 7 years old and frequently turned to Castellanos for counseling, the lawsuit said.
In addition to the allegations of sexual abuse, the lawsuit claims Castellanos had previous accusations of sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s that were covered up by the Archdiocese.
“The Archdiocese in Miami chose to put their needs, protecting the Archdiocese, over the safety of children,” Herman said citing an affidavit by a priest that details abuses by Castellanos. “This case should never have happened. The Archdiocese of Miami should never have Father Castellanos around kids after learning about him sexually abusing other children.”
Castellanos was removed from the ministry in 2002 but still holds the title of priest and retired in 2004, Herman said.
The Archdiocese said Castellanos was retired without faculties and could not present himself as or dress as a priest.