Lawsuit Claims Sex Abuse by Miami Nun

Man claims he was groped and fondled at Catholic school in late 70s

A South Florida man claims he was the victim of sex abuse at the hands of a Catholic nun over 30 years ago in Miami.

A lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court on behalf of the man identified as John Doe No. 73, claims he was groped and fondled when he was a first grader at St. James Catholic School in North Miami in 1978 and 1979.

The lawsuit claims Sister Joan Marie, a teacher at St. James, frequently singled out the boy more than other kids, often having him come to the front of lines.

While he was in line, "Sister Joah Marie would stand behind John and rub against him with her body, touching him all over with her hands," the suit alleges. "She then pretended to tuck in his shirt and while doing so, rubbed John's genitals under his clothing and fondled him."

The alleged abuse occurred twice a week for the entire school year, ending only when the boy's family moved that summer.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Jeffrey Herman, names the Archdiocese of Miami, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, St. James Catholic School and the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Mich. as defendants.

Herman claims the Archdiocese and Dominican Sisters "knew or should have known that Sister Joan Marie was a sexual predator before, during and after the time she sexually abused John."

The Archdiocese issued a statement saying they learned of the lawsuit through the media.

"As always, the Catholic Church's concerns are for the victims and a prevailing sense of justice. In addition, over these past nine years, the Archdiocese has been forthcoming and taken steps to keep children safe through training and background screenings of all its employees," the statement read. "If anyone has been a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy or church personnel, please come forward by contacting the Archdiocese of Miami's Victims Assistance Coordinator, 1-866-802-2873, or contact your local law enforcement department."

Herman claims John Doe No. 73 has "suffered severe and permanent psychological, emotional and physical injuries, shame, humiliation and the inability to lead a normal life." 

Attempts to track down Sister Joan Marie have been unsuccessful, Herman said.

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