Sex Abuse Suit Filed Against Priest Already Facing Charges

Neil Doherty accused of molesting teen boy in mid-80s

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    NEWSLETTERS

    No More Prestige |
    The Vatican, the seat of Catholic power and policy, now allows Roman Catholic churches to defrock priests for a number of reasons, including sexual misconduct. Chicago church officials say they aren't sure if or how they will use the power.

    The former South Florida priest already behind bars as he awaits a criminal trial on sexual battery charges will be facing a civil lawsuit that accuses him of molesting a young boy while he was assigned to a Miami Church in the 1980s.

    Neil Doherty, who earlier this week was ordered held behind bars for violating his pre-trial release, is accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy on multiple occasions beginning in 1985, according to a new lawsuit being filed Friday.

    The lawsuit alleges Doherty, while assigned to the Cathedral of St. Mary in the mid-80s, "would frequently seek out young underprivileged boys for sex," luring the boys "with alcohol and illegal drugs during the sexual encounters."

    It also alleges that during his encounters with the unnamed plaintiff in the lawsuit, Doherty would bring him to a nearby motel where another man, believed to be a priest, would sexually assault another boy while a video camera recorded them.

    It's just the latest of several accusations of abuse against the former priest, who also worked at St. Vincent's Catholic Church in Margate, dating back to 1973.

    The 67-year-old was arrested last week after he was found to have ventured away from his Lake Worth home for 17 minutes last month, disconnecting him from his electronic ankle monitor. It was the 8th time Doherty had disconnected from the system that tracks him since he was fitted with it in March 2006.

    Doherty is being held in a Broward County jail.

    Friday's lawsuit, filed by attorney Jeffrey Herman, includes the Archdiocese of Miami, which Herman claims knew of Doherty's abuses and tried to cover for him.

    The archdiocese released a statement Friday, saying all members of its clergy and staff go through background checks by the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    "When an allegation of abuse is brought forth, either via the victim or an attorney, the archdiocese’s response is consistent. We offer pastoral and psychological counseling; in addition, law enforcement officials are notified and the allegations are reviewed by a five member Archdiocesan Review Board comprised of doctors, attorneys and one member of the clergy. The Archdiocese of Miami offers to assist anyone who has been a victim of abuse by a member of the church," the statement reads. "Rev. Neil Doherty retired in 2002 without faculties; he is not permitted to wear clerical garb, celebrate the sacrament, have an assignment nor is he listed on the archdiocesan website."