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Press Conference to Announce 3 New Suits Against Archdiocese of Miami

Interviewer: You ready?

Man: Sure.

Interviewer: Okay.

Jeff: All right.

Interviewer: Can you please tell us about these new three lawsuits against the Archdiocese?

Jeff: Sure, sure. My name is Jeff Herman. I’m an attorney here with Herman, Mermelstein & Horowitz. And today this press conference is to announce the filing of three new lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Miami. Each of these cases deal with allegations that Father Neil Flemming from the Archdiocese sexually abused these men when they were boys. And the allegations are basically that all three of these boys were at Boystown in Florida back in the 1960s. When they were about 14 years old, they met Father Flemming who was involved with the Boystown. Flemming used Boystown to recruit victims. He found these boys, he groomed them. And then he took them out of Boystown to his mother’s home and to other locations where he sexually abused the boys.

These are not the first allegations against Father Flemming. In fact these make I think, about seven cases that we’ve handled dealing with Father Flemming. What’s particularly disturbing about these cases is that one of these boys told his counselor about what Father Flemming was doing to him in 1964. The next year, the Archdiocese promoted Father Flemming to be the Director of Boystown. Where of course he was given carte blanche to find more victims. I mean essentially what we’re alleging is that the Archdiocese of Miami served up these vulnerable boys to Father Flemming, who took advantage of them and sexually abused these boys.

Interviewer: Is Father Flemming part of the charge right now? Has he been…

Jeff: No, he ended up going to Naples. And now he is living in Florida, north of the Tampa area. I don’t believe he’s been defrocked. I think he’s still technically a priest. Which is unfortunate because we’ve seen this over and over again with the Archdiocese of Miami. Is when they have priests who they know are monsters, priests who they know are raping boys, like Father Doherty who sits in jail right now. They don’t defrock them. They keep them as priests, which is really horrible for the victims.

Interviewer: You said that you’d got more cases against Father Flemming. When were those cases? This year? A couple of years ago?

Jeff: Over the past couple of years, I’ve had other cases. The previous cases have been settled. These are three new victims, who are very brave men, who’ve decided that they wanted to come forward and get help.

Interviewer: Has the Church began any kind of investigation after you settled the first lawsuit against this priest?

Jeff: Well the MO of the Archdiocese of Miami has been to try to fight these cases on technical grounds. They try to avoid liability, arguing that the statute of limitations has expired so they have no responsibility. And then they fight to not produce the documents, and so we do legal battle. In as I said, some of the cases, they have settled. And then we have many cases still pending against the Church down here.

Interviewer: Do you think that maybe there are more victims that still haven’t spoken about this?

Jeff: I’m sure of it. And that’s one of the reasons these victims have come forward, is because they want to encourage other victims to get help. Not to suffer in silence. The worst thing for a victim who has been sexually abused as a child is to suffer in silence. And when they see sometimes other victims having the strength to come forward and get help, they feel empowered to get help. The other reason these victims come forward is that the best way to protect children in the future is to expose predators in institutions, like the Archdiocese of Miami, that have protected them.

Interviewer: Besides this that you have just explained, is there anything else that they are expecting? I don’t know, like some monetary compensation? What will they receive?

Jeff: Well the only justice that can be served now for these victims, is in a civil lawsuit. And that’s because Father Flemming was never reported to the authorities years ago when the police could have done something and he could have been arrested. Unfortunately now for the criminal authorities, most of the time it’s too late for them to be able to hold him criminally accountable. We just took his deposition this past year. And you know, he’s had no legal consequence. No criminal consequence for all of the boys that he raped and abused, and destroyed their lives really. This man, this priest has had no consequence.

Interviewer: But has he recognized that he did these things in the deposition?

Jeff: No. In his deposition his lawyer pleads the fifth amendment and he refuses to answer any questions.

Interviewer: Okay.

Jeff: So, yeah.

Interviewer: Anybody else?

Man: No, that’s great. Thanks.

Interviewer: I’m done.

Jessica: The transcript is over there if you need it.

Jeff: Will do.

Man: All right.

Jeff: That’s okay. I’ll give you another in a little…

Interviewer: Is there anybody fluent in Spanish in the office so that we can [inaudible 00:05:10]?

Jeff: Yeah. Fluent, lets’ see. Two of my secretaries are out right now.

Interviewer: [inaudible 00:05:17]

Jeff: When Hani [SP] gets back…one of them may be back very soon if you… Jessica, maybe we can call and see if Hani is on her way back.

Interviewer: Okay, great.

Jeff: If she is, she can talk Spanish.

Man: How many total, by the way? Against this priest?

Jessica: Seven.

Man: Seven.

Jeff: Just with this priest, about seven now. Yeah.

Interviewer: Against the Archdiocese, how many cases do you have?

Jeff: Over the past few years, I’ve had over 100.

Interviewer: Over 100, right?

Jeff: Yes.

Interviewer: In general, how does this kind of cases end? With the Archdioceses paying? Or…

Jeff: Yeah, I mean they have settled most of the cases. But some of the cases you know, they still fight legal technical issues. They argue that these victims should not be able to go to court and to have a trial because of the statute of limitations.

Interviewer: In comparison to other Archdioceses, Miami has more cases or average cases?

Jeff: Well every one’s different. They there are some very notorious priests down here compared to other Archdioceses. I would say Miami compares in some ways to Boston, in terms of certain priests who they knew were abusing many, many boys. And they moved them around, like Father Flemming, like Father Neil Doherty. Those guys, Doherty is one in particular who we have documents that they fought to produce to us but we got them. That show that they knew since the 1970s that that priest was drugging and raping boys. And so it’s very unfortunate. And he did that up until finally he was suspended in 2002. So he was there for decades.