Diocese of Orlando ACCUSED PRIESTS
The Diocese of Orlando was founded in 1968, covering approximately 9,611 square miles. The diocese serves more than 400,000 Catholics throughout the following counties:
Since its establishment in 1968, the diocese has been the subject of numerous lawsuits and accusations of sexual abuse by predator priests within the diocese. One of those predator priests was Richard Emerson, who served in the diocese between 1987 and 1991. In the lawsuits filed against the diocese, at least three boys accused Emerson of sexually abusing them.
In 2005, a former parishioner accused Emerson of repeatedly sexually abusing him in Orlando from 1986 to 1991. The claims allege that Emerson gave him alcohol, watched pornography with him, and threatened to stay quiet about the abuse. The abuse occurred when the man was 11 years old, and it continued over seven years. Emerson was removed from priestly duties and laicized in 2006.
Another predator priest, Oscar Salazar, was accused of groping a boy in Deltona, Florida, in 1996. After the accusations surfaced, the diocese sent Salazar to St. Luke Institute, a facility in Silver Spring, Maryland, that treats clergy with sexual disorders. The same year, another priest from the diocese, James Coyle, was also sent to St. Luke Institute after being accused of sexually abusing several boys in the 1980s when one of the boys was only twelve years old.
In 2003, the diocese removed priest Peter Uniowski, pastor of St. Neumann Catholic Church in Lakeland, after a twelve-year-old female victim accused him of engaging in inappropriate conduct with her. The diocese found that, while there was not enough evidence to confirm the inappropriate behavior in that instance, there was credible evidence showing that Uniowski was sexually involved with adult women.
In 2004, the diocese announced that it had removed twelve priests who had been accused of sexually abusing minors between its creation in 1968 through June 2002.
Former diocese priest William Authenrieth, who served in the diocese for years, is a stark example of how the Catholic Church has handled predator priests in its midst. Authenrieth was ordained in 1962 for the Diocese of Brooklyn. He served in the Brooklyn diocese until 1973, when he was transferred to the Diocese of Orlando after a young parishioner threatened to reveal his abuse.
While in Florida, various dioceses transferred Authenrieth after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced against him. In 1978, after a parishioner reported that Authenrieth had molested his own son, the church transferred Authenrieth from All Soul’s in Sanford to St. Mary’s in Rockledge. The Catholic Church finally removed Authenrieth from the ministry in 1985, and no criminal charges were filed against him before his death in 2015.
In 2018, the diocese announced that it was removing priest David Gillis from the priesthood after Gillis was accused of sexually abusing a minor while serving in the Diocese of Allentown in Pennsylvania.
The diocese has published a list of priests and church personnel credibly accused of sexual abuse while serving in the diocese, including:
- William Authenrieth
- Art Bendixen
- James Coyle
- Cyril Donnelley
- Richard Emerson
- Kathleen Francis Honc
- James Ingram
- Ronald Johnson
- John McCullen
- Stephen McNicholas
- Jose Mena
- Eamon O’Dowd
- James Pagni
- Hubert Reason
- Larry Redmond
- Oscar Salazar
- Thomas Sykes
- Joseph Tran
- Vernon Uhran
- Peter Uniowski.
The Diocese of Orlando exemplifies the tragic reality of the Roman Catholic Church cover-ups and how they have failed to protect their members. Simply transferring sexual predators around allowed them to prey on innocent children. If someone sexually abused you or a family member at the Diocese of Orlando, you may be able to hold both your abuser and the Diocese of Orlando responsible. Contact our legal team here at Herman Law today for a free consultation and to understand your legal rights.
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