Diocese of Palm Beach ACCUSED PRIESTS
The Diocese of Palm Beach has faced numerous scandals involving sexual abuse by priests and bishops in the organization, including former bishop Joseph Keith Symons, who resigned in 1998 after admitting to sexually abusing five boys early in his career. One of the victims claimed that Symons molested him for about three years, starting when he was only 13.
Then, in 2002, Symons’ successor, Anthony O’Connell, was also forced to resign after he admitted to molesting at least two underage seminarians while he was assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Preparatory Seminary in Hannibal, Missouri. Nine men in total had alleged that O’Connell abused them while at the seminary. O’Connell was never charged with any crime, and he was allowed to spend his retirement at an abbey in South Carolina. O’Connell died in 2012.
The Diocese of Palm Beach includes the counties of Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee in Southeast Florida, and it serves more than 240,000 Catholics.
In 2004, the diocese settled a lawsuit against the diocese and others based on allegations that retired priest Francis Maloney sexually abused a teenage boy who attended John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce. According to the lawsuit, Maloney started a 12-year sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy while the boy was working for him as a houseboy in Port St. Lucie. The lawsuit alleged that Maloney was often naked in front of the boy, frequently asked the boy inappropriate questions during their counseling sessions, and pornographic photos and letters.
Maloney was first assigned to the diocese in 1986, where he worked at St. Joseph Church in Stuart. Before retiring, he served at St. Rita in Wellington, St. Juliana in West Palm Beach, Holy Family in Port St. Lucie, and St. Luke in Fort Worth. The diocese forced him to retire in 2000 after it was disclosed that he was having a sexual relationship with another man while at St. Luke. Before the 2004 settlement in the Maloney case, the diocese had already paid more than $900,000 to settle seven other sexual abuse claims.
The Diocese of Palm Beach is one of only a handful of dioceses that have still not released a list of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. However, the organization ProPublica has compiled lists of credibly accused clergy, including those who may have served in the Diocese of Palm Beach. The list includes the following individuals:
- Thomas J. Benestad
- John Sutton
- Charles Bartles
- Ronald Francis Burt.
The Catholic Church watchdog organization BishopAccountability.org has also compiled a list of credibly accused priests that have been accused of clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Palm Beach. This list includes:
- Edwin J. Collins
- Frank Flynn
- Elias Francisco Giumaraes
- Francis Edward Maloney
- Jose Palimattom
- Joseph Keith Symons.
By refusing to release this list, the Diocese of Palm Beach continues to fail to protect its members from potential predators. The Diocese of Palm Beach has the legal duty to protect its members from injury. When it fails to do so, victims can also seek justice against the Diocese itself. If you or someone you love experienced sex abuse at the Diocese of Palm Beach, contact the experienced sexual abuse lawyers at Herman Law today for a free consultation.
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