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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:

  • Orange
  • Osceola
  • Seminole
  • Marion
  • Lake
  • Volusia
  • Brevard
  • Polk
  • Sumer

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.

Ordained: 1976
Status: Settled
Chancellor of the Diocese of Orlando1984-91. Rector of seminary 1991-93. Seen nude in bed with a nude boy by a priest in 1978. Former priest and a church activist claim they asked for investigations in 1986 and 1992 but nothing done. Sued in 1994. Accused of abuse of several boys. Several settlements in 1995. From 2009, Bendixen was vice president for programs and partnerships for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
Ordained: 1983
Status: Accused
Accused in 1996 of sexual molestations over five years in the 1980s at St. Peter’s in DeLand, and of plying boys with marijuana and alcohol. Suspended and sent for treatment. News not released to public by diocese until 2/97. Bishop Dorsey promised in 1997 that Coyle would never be returned to diocesan duties. Died 6/11/07.
Ordained: 1978
Status: Sued
Litigation alleges the Gary, IN diocese knew of Emerson’s abusive history when he was allowed to begin work in Orlando in 1986. In 1992 he was ordered to return to Gary after allegations in Orlando. In 2004 a man from Orlando filed a civil suit. A second civil suit filed 2/08 in Florida alleged a long-term ‘relationship’ with Emerson, beginning at age 9. Suit filed in IN 12/08 alleging abuse after Emerson returned to Gary. Laicized in 2006. New FL suits filed 5/10 and 7/10. He filed bankruptcy in 2/11. Included on Gary diocese’s list released 8/27/18.
Ordained: 1957
Status: Accused
From Spain. Accused of molesting a girl at age 14, and raping her when she was 16, at St. Patrick’s in Largo in the 1960s. His victim began having flashbacks in 2000. When she confronted Garcia, he admitted the abuse. He was removed from his post and returned to Spain. Deceased, per the FL A.G. report released 11/6/20.
Ordained: N/A
Status: Accused
Accused in 2007 of molesting a girl sometime between 1962-1971 at Melbourne Central Catholic High School, where Honc was a teacher. Honc left the area in 1971. Her Order deemed the allegations credible and she was removed from her assignment in Seminole, FL. She died 9/9/16. Per her obituary, Hoc “fully retired in 2007 and was warmly welcomed home to the St. Elizabeth Motherhouse in Allegany, NY.”
Ordained: 1959
Status: Settled
Investigated in 1977 for fondling two girls; no charges filed after he apologized and said he meant no harm. Arrested in 1983 for fondling a girl. Those charges dropped after he agreed to psychiatric treatment. Reportedly had an affair with the girl’s mother. A civil suit settled in 1986 for $250K and files sealed. Still active priest until he “retired” without privileges in 1995 after news of the 1983 incident became public.
Ordained: 1977
Status: Convicted
Accused in a 1995 lawsuit of molesting young people in seminary and at several assignments.The diocese put him through school for a mental counseling career in 1986 in exchange for leaving the priesthood. Suit says the diocese lied to the state about Pagni’s background. Diocese agreed it helped him change careers but denies deceiving the state. Two more suits filed in 1996. Arrested in 1995; sentenced to 10 years prison in 1996. Released in 7/2000. Still on sex offender registry 12/09 but not in 1/12. Per the FL A.G. report 11/6/20, Pagni is deceased.
Ordained: 1964
Status: Settled
Parish pastor, vicar general. In 8/95 the diocese settled with at least six men who claimed abuse by Redmond when they were youngsters. After accusations became public in 12/94, Redmond was placed on leave and later retired. In 8/95, another man’s suit was dismissed due to the statute of limitations. Other victims were expected to file. Died in 2/06. New suit filed in 10/11.
Ordained: 1976
Status: Reinstated
Accused in a lawsuit filed 4/27/20 of sexually abusing a boy, about ages 14 and 15, in 2001 and 2002. Ruse’s alleged victim claims the abuse occurred in a classroom and in the chaplain’s office at Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk City, FL. Ruse was pastor at the time of the alleged abuse of St. Matthews in Winter Haven. Per the lawsuit, Ruse “suddenly retired” in 2018. He denied the allegations. Ruse’s lawyer said the priest was suspended in 2/20 and reinstated in 4/20 after he was “cleared of any wrongdoing.”
Ordained: N/A
Status: Accused
Accused of groping a 17-year-old boy in 1996 at Our Lady of the Lakes Church in Deltona. Not charged because boy and family declined to do so. Removed from assignment and sent to St. Luke’s for treatment. Diocese made no public announcement until 2/97. Bishop said Salazar would never be assigned in the diocese and would not be recommended for assignment in another diocese.
Ordained: N/A
Status: Accused
On 5/12/10 the attorney for a minor plaintiff announced he would soon file suit against Sheedy. Sheedy emphatically denied the allegations in a public news conference. On 5/13/10 the plaintiff’s attorney said he had agreed to delay filing suit at the request of the diocese, which didn’t believe the allegations.
Ordained: 1964
Status: Settled
Sykes is believed to be the “Fr. Thomas S.” cited in a 12/31/87 San Jose Mercury News article. Thomas S. removed from Orlando diocese in 1976 after parents of a 16-year-old boy complained that he had molested their son. Father S. was transferred to a Richmond, VA parish. Thomas Sykes was laicized and married. He testified in the Rev. Authenrieth matter. Settlement in early 1990s. Diocese announced in 2/07 that a new credible allegation of abuse in 1970s had recently been received. Civil suit filed 7/20/11. Died in 2002. Added to the Richmond diocese’s list 2/27/19.
Ordained: 1969
Status: Settled
Accused in two lawsuits settled in 7/05 of abusing at least two boys in the early 1970s. Both plaintiffs claimed that the diocese knew of abuse by 1969 and did nothing except transfer Uhran. Removed from duties in 1992 after an allegation of abuse. Two suits filed in 9/05 and three more in 12/05. Two suits settled as of 7/06 for $250K. He pled the 5th amendment 90 times in an 8/08 deposition. Also worked in Alaska and the Dominican Republic. New case filed in FL 5/10. Multiple victims.
Ordained: 1975
Status: Accused
Suspended from his parish assignment in 2003 after the diocese received an allegation of inappropriate sexual behavior involving a 12-year-old girl. Police notified. No criminal charges filed. Permanently removed from parish assignment in 7/03. Bishop said that while there was not enough evidence regarding the child’s accusation, there was clear evidence of inappropriate conduct with regard to sexual affairs with adult women. Died 8/10/21.

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