Jeff Herman on South Florida Priest’s 15-year Sentence

Betty: Appearing frail and haggard in Broward Circuit Court, retired priest Neil Doherty pleaded no contest to six counts of lewd and lascivious upon a child in exchange for reduced charges and a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Man: You want this case over today, am I correct?

Father Doherty: That’s correct.

Man: All right. Very well.

Betty: For the victim who alleges that the 69 year old ex-priest drugged and raped him multiple times as a young boy, the plea deal offers some sort of closure.

Jeff: This isn’t about a victory in terms of being able to take away what happened to these men. It’s about justice. It’s about finally having validation and vindication. Because all these years, Doherty has been denying it, the church has been denying it, and we knew better.

Betty: Doherty has a long list of accusers who say he used his position of power at several South Florida churches to molest them when they were children. Some accusations date back to the 1970s. Some cases, they were too old to prosecute. This is the first criminal punishment for Doherty.

Jeff: Hopefully, this is the end of the reign of terror for Father Doherty, who preyed on young boys in Florida for decades.

Betty: Atty. Jeff Herman represents several of Doherty’s alleged victims. He’s filed more than 20 civil suits on their behalf. Doherty’s sentencing is scheduled for January 28. The lawyer for many of those sexual abuse victims says they do plan to be present at that sentencing. In Fort Lauderdale, I’m Betty Yu [SP], NBC 6, South Florida.