By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Doherty, who is under house arrest in Palm Beach County awaiting trial on sexual battery charges related to Sam and another boy, could not be reached for comment. His attorney, David Bogenschutz, declined to answer questions about the case, saying "his side of the story will be told to a jury."
The Archdiocese of Miami did not respond to a list of questions about Doherty, citing legal concerns. Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta furnished a statement saying only that the archdiocese had an "ongoing appeal for anyone who has been a victim of abuse by a church member to contact the archdiocese's hotline," with a toll-free number, 866-802-2873.
Most of the boys Doherty counseled are now men, but as is customary, their identities have not been disclosed in public court filings.
One of them, whom we'll call Kevin, says he was referred to Doherty through the Catholic Services Bureau, which helps provide shelter and counseling for troubled children, especially those whose parents have substance abuse problems. Court records are unclear about Kevin's age when he met Doherty; all they say are that the boy's mother was an alcoholic prone to violent rages, which caused so much stress that Kevin had difficulty concentrating in school.
In a 2005 interview with Det. Eric Hendel of the Broward Sheriff's Office, Kevin told of his first meeting with Doherty, in 1973, the year after the priest left Riviera Beach. Kevin was surprised Doherty wore "sports clothes," he said, rather than the typical white collar, black shirt, and pants. Doherty told him not to bother calling him "Father Neil," Kevin explained, and encouraged use of the name Gus, which Doherty said he used with adult friends. Kevin was even more surprised when Doherty asked if he was sexually active. "I had grown up with a rather strict Roman Catholic family," Kevin told the detective. "This, to me, was a totally new brand of priest."
The boy met with Doherty twice a week. One day, the priest took out his car keys and flashed a smile. "We're going to skip a session," Kevin recalled him saying. With that, they drove to a house he remembers being "on the waterways somewhere."
Doherty opened a liquor cabinet and lit a joint. "I took a few puffs of that," said Kevin. "I was drinking bourbon. I didn't have a high tolerance at that time, so after two or three drinks, I reached a point where I was getting almost ready to pass out. He directed me toward a large bedroom."
There Kevin fell asleep, and when he awoke, "I remember feeling sexually aroused.... [Doherty] was on the bed with me, performing oral sex on me."
Kevin recalled being "absolutely terrified." But he was too groggy to resist. "I was aware enough that I realized this was a priest," he said. "This was a person who had me in therapy. I was very confused and scared and stayed silent."
He told police that next, Doherty flipped him on his stomach and sodomized him.
Over the next four years, said Kevin, there were "several dozen instances of sex" between Doherty and himself. "I knew I was going to him because I was having emotional problems," Kevin said, but those problems multiplied exponentially. "I was confused. I was angry. I was disappointed. I was disillusioned."
Kevin finally broke off contact with Doherty around 1977, he said, after he was approached by an 18-year-old man who said he'd been having sex with Doherty since he was 11.
At least three other men have accused Doherty of abusing them during his time at Saint Anthony in the Seventies.
Much like Kevin, one boy, whom we'll call Andy, was referred to Doherty in 1975 because he was disobeying his parents. Soon the chats with the pastor became a pleasant diversion from Andy's fourth-grade lessons, he told Detective Hendel in 2005. Before long, Doherty opened a file cabinet where he kept marijuana, sleeping pills, and Quaaludes.
Soon their conversations broached a mysterious adult subject: sex. "He had a really bizarre attitude toward women," Andy said. "He would talk about inserting objects into their vaginas and pouring lead into their vaginas to determine if they were a witch."
Doherty had a different perspective on boys. "He said the church frowned on homosexuality," Andy recalled, "but that would probably change once they discovered cum tastes good.... I just thought it was fascinating. Is that what the world is all about? My parents never told me about this."
The priest invited Andy on field trips, purportedly to visit Doherty's mother in West Palm Beach. But the woman was never home, Andy said. They would "sit around, watch TV, smoke marijuana, take pills, and drink beer," he explained. Andy passed out, and when he awoke, he had pain in his rectum. This happened at least three times, he told police.
At age 14, Andy broke into Doherty's apartment and stole the keys to the priest's car. He didn't see the man after that.
Another boy, whom we'll call Chris, said he was nine when he met Doherty through the Catholic Services Bureau. Like Andy and Kevin, Chris was referred because of behavior problems in school. During their sessions, when Doherty asked about homosexuality, Chris expressed disgust, saying he'd kill any man who made a move on him; an adult neighbor had already assaulted him.