This afternoon, local attorney Jeffrey Herman held a press conference to announce yet another lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Miami. According to the suit, Father Neil Doherty -- now in prison -- drugged, molested, and raped then 15-year-old Miami resident Dennis Montero.
Before the press conference, however, the Archdiocese sent reporters a list of "questions that you should keep in mind" for the attorney including "Is the Archdiocese of Miami the only organization/person Mr. Jeffrey Herman sues?"
"It seems to me like it's deflecting from the issue," says Herman, "which is why was Neil Doherty working there for decades when he was molesting children?"
In his lawsuit, Montero says he met the priest in 1984 at the Keystone Trailer Park in Miami:
Doherty took Dennis and his friend to a trailer, where another adult male lived. In this trailer, Doherty gave Dennis wine. The wine was drugged and caused Dennis to lose consciousness. When Dennis awoke, he was naked with Father Doherty also naked sleeping next to him. Dennis could feel the residue of semen on his leg. Dennis was confused and upset, and Doherty calmed him down. Father Doherty offered Dennis Money.
The alleged abuse continued for 18 months. According to the suit, "Doherty also took nude photos of Dennis... 'blessed' Dennis, made him feel special, and told him that his job was to share God's love."
Montero is not the first person to claim that Doherty molested him. Far from it, in fact.
Back in 2008, New Times reported on allegations that Doherty has abused dozens of young men. A year ago, a local jury issued a $100 million settlement against the priest for abusing as many as 26 teenage boys.
Herman handled that lawsuit, along with many others against the Archdiocese. In its email sent out earlier today, the Archdiocese listed these questions for reporters:
- Is the Archdiocese of Miami the only organization/person Mr. Jeffrey Herman sues?
- Who are the other people that Mr. Herman sues?
- Why doesn't he hold press conferences for those people he is suing?
- Has Mr. Herman spoken with Fr. Doherty's personal attorney?
- Does Mr. Herman know where Fr. Neil Doherty is right now?
Herman says the Church's attempts to target him are dangerous. "I don't know what they are doing," he says. "It appears to me that they think that I just pick on them, when in reality I pick on any institution that protects child predators. They just seem to have a lot more of them."
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"Instead of making it safe to come forward, they attack me, they attack the victims. It's disgusting," he continues. "I'm a big boy. I can take it. I'm not the one who was abused... but I am the voice for victims who have been abused. And these attacks will not silence me. It just makes me want to fight harder for these victims."
The Archdiocese released a statement on the new lawsuit this afternoon.
"The Archdiocese of Miami's policy on sexual abuse allegations is very clear: a report is made to the State Attorney's office; our internal Archdiocesan Review Board reviews the allegation; and pastoral care and counseling are offered to any alleged victim," according to the statement. "As always, the Catholic Church's concerns are for the victims and a prevailing sense of justice and healing. Over these past ten years, the Archdiocese has been forthcoming and taken steps to keep children safe through training and background screenings of all its employees, volunteers, clergy and teachers."