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Diocese of Venice ACCUSED PRIESTS

The Diocese of Venice, Florida, was founded in 1984 and serves 237,000 Catholics. The diocese includes Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota Ccounties.

In 2018, the Florida Attorney General launched an investigation into clergy abuse in all seven Florida dioceses. The Attorney General completed its investigation in 2021 and named 97 priests accused of sexual abuse. Of those 97 priests, nine are from the Diocese of Venice. In a letter to parishioners, the diocese’s Bishop Frank Dewane stated that none of the nine priests were still serving as priests in the diocese. 

While the Diocese of Venice has not released a list of every priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, the diocese’s website has named the nine priests identified in the Attorney General’s report. The ProPublica website also lists the following priests who may have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors in the diocese: Norman T. Connelly, John R. Dwyer, John Dagwell “Aloysius,” Robert Bond, and Thomas P. Creagh.   

Since the diocese’s founding in 1984, at least eight priests have been accused of abusing minors. The most well-known predator priest is Robert Schaeufele, accused of sexually abusing several minors when he served in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Schaeufele resigned from the priesthood in 2002 after he admitted to molesting two minors and assaulting another. In 2003, Schaeufele would go on to plead guilty to these three counts of sexual abuse.

The trial court sentenced Schaeufele to thirty years in prison. He was released in 2015. 

In another case involving a predator priest, the Catholic Church reportedly spent $50,000 to help priest Edward McLoughlin begin a new life in Ireland to avoid criminal charges of child sexual abuse while serving in the St. Charles Borromeo parish. A former altar boy filed a lawsuit in 1997, alleging sexual abuse by McLoughlin. Disturbingly enough, the boy had actually gone to McLoughlin for counseling about another priest who had sexually abused him.

According to these allegations, the diocese knew as early as 1983 that McLoughlin was allowing boys to sleep overnight in McLoughlin’s rectory, but the church did nothing about it. In a letter to parishioners in 2002, the then-bishop John Nevins denied that he changed McLoughlin’s assignments to cover up his abuse, and that he helped McLoughlin flee to Ireland to escape criminal charges against him.

The Diocese of Venice has settled several lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests serving in the diocese. According to reports, as of 2002, the diocese had spent at least $1.5 million to settle lawsuits of priest sexual abuse. In 2014, the diocese entered into a six-figure settlement with a man who accused former diocese priest Jean Ronald Joseph of molesting the boy when he was 16 years old in the 1980s.  

Many children who are victims of sexual abuse do not come forward until later in life. No matter when someone sexually abused you, you may be able to take legal action against both your abuser and the Diocese of Venice. The Diocese of Venice was in charge of protecting you, and if they failed to do so, you can potentially hold the institution responsible and receive monetary compensation to help you on your healing journey. If someone sexually abused you or a loved one at the Diocese of Venice, contact our legal team of Florida sexual abuse attorneys at Herman Law today for a free consultation.

Ordained: 1954
Status: Sued
Pastor of St. Francis Xavier 1966-2004. Retired in 2004. Died in Ireland in 1/10. Accused in a 4/10 civil suit of abuse of at least one youth 1967-1968. Per plaintiff, there were other victims. The suit names the Miami archdiocese and the Diocese of Venice, which was part of Miami at the time of the alleged abuse. Anglim supervised two other known abusers.
Ordained: 1975
Status: Accused
Retired in 2000. Per 7/02 articles, ministerial rights permanently revoked by Bishop after anonymous letter with documentation of alleged abuse received by Diocese in 5/02. Investigation found evidence of at least two victims in separate locations. No victims came forward so Diocese did not report to law enforcement.
Ordained: 1975
Status: Accused
Ordained at age 53. Assigned at some point to St. Martha’s in Sarasota. Accused in 4/02 by a woman of molesting her 16-year-old son in 1994 when Bartholomew was a chiropractor in Bradenton, FL, prior to ordination. Bartholomew was not assigned to the Venice diocese in 4/02 and was reportedly in England. In 10/02 a committee of lay persons investigated and cleared Bartholomew. The priest acknowledged genital contact with the boy, but said it was part of a medical procedure. One committee member, a psychologist, had once examined another teenage boy who had alleged that Bartholomew made sexual advances toward him in 1998. Bartholomew was returned to full active status.
Ordained: 1987
Status: Sued
Accused in a civil suit filed in 11/05 of abusing an 11-year-old boy in the early 1980s while a seminary student at Incarnation Catholic Church. In 1991 Brennan pleaded no contest to exposing himself to an undercover deputy at a highway rest stop. Retired in 9/08. Continued to assist at Incarnation Parish. Died 1/20/11.
Ordained: 1986
Status: Convicted
Placed on leave in 1993 after accusations of a sexual “relationship” with a 13-year-old girl. Pleaded guilty in 1993 on four counts of sexual battery and/or lewd acts; sentenced to 6 months in jail and 20 years probation with mandatory treatment and forced retirement. Released from jail in 12/95. A civil suit was filed and settled out of court in 1997. Settlement was reported in 2002 to have been $550K. Previous accusations in the 1980s. Living in MO in 2010. On Sex Offender Registry.
Ordained: 1958
Status: Settled
Placed on leave in 2002 after allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor. Incident was alleged to have occurred more than 30 years previously. Permanently removed in early 2004 after man filed civil suit alleging Flemming and his brother James abused him at Boystown, an Miami-area orphanage. At least one suit settled in 9/04 as part of large Archdiocese of Miami settlement. Two new suits filed 9/30/09 against Archdiocese of Miami; settled 2011. Three new suits filed by three men in 8/11.
Ordained: 1993
Status: Settled
From Haiti. Ordained for the Diocese of Venice. Accusations first made in 8/08. Agreed to a leave of absence in 12/08 pending an investigation of allegations that he had sexually abused a 16-year- old boy in 1993 at St. Frances Xavier parish in Ft. Meyers. Joseph denied all allegations. Canon law trial held in 2013 found denials not credible. Settlement of claims announced 08/20/14. It is believed he was laicized in 2013. Apparently case was settled only after secret 2013 documents were given to plaintiff showing the Catholic Church knew the priest was guilty of abusing him as a child and that other victims were also known.The decision to laicize was appealed to Rome.
Ordained: 1978
Status: Settled
The diocese knew in 1983 that McLoughlin had boys sleeping overnight at his rectory. Accused in a 1997 lawsuit of abuse of a boy after the boy sought counseling because of prior abuse by choir director. Settled in 1999 for $599K. Laicized 11/21/00. Reportedly in 2002 he was living in Ireland. (McLoughlin’s brother, Fr. Nick McLoughlin, also priest of the diocese and accused of helping to cover up his history. Nick was suspended in 11/18 after an allegation dating to the 1970s.)
Ordained: 1967
Status: Settled
Retired in 1995. Faculties revoked in 5/02 due to accusations dating back “many years.” Allegedly, during the 1975-76 school year at St. Ann’s in Naples, Romero would force students to undress in his bedroom, after which they would share wine from the chalice and take the host wafer. He would also take nude pictures of some children. Hosted foreign exchange students; two from Germany alleged abuse. Several suits filed. Some settled 2004-05. A 6/03 suit said rape of a Miami boy, age 10, in 1975. An 8/03 suit claimed abuse of three siblings, a girl and two boys 1982-89 in Moore Haven. Left the priesthood in 2003. Still hosting exchange students.Suit in 10/03 said abuse of boy, age 12 in 1976. New civil suit vs the Miami archdiocese 3/22/12 claimed abuse of a boy at St. Augustine’s in Coral Gables in the 1970s.

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