Fr. William Authenrieth – Diocese of Brooklyn

| Jun 30, 2020 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father William Authenrieth

Diocese of Brooklyn

Ordained: 1962

Removed: 1985

Laicized: 1986

Died: 2015

Assigned as follows:

  • 1963-1973: St. Vincent Ferrer (Brooklyn, NY)
  • 1974: Holy Spirit (Mims, FL)
  • 1975: St. John’s (Orlando, FL)
  • 1976-1978: On Duty Outside of the Diocese
  • 1979-1983: St. Mary’s (Rockledge, FL)
  • 1984: All Souls’ (Sanford, FL)
  • 1985: Our Lady of Lourdes (Melbourne, FL)
  • 1986-2014: Unknown

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father William Authenrieth:

Fr. William Authenrieth was an associate priest at St. Vincent Ferrer in Brooklyn, New York until 1973, when he moved to the Diocese of Orlando, Florida. According to media reports, in 1978, a parishioner at All Souls in Sanford, FL reported to the Diocese of Orlando that Authenrieth had touched his son’s genitals. The priest was quietly transferred to St. Mary’s in Rockledge, Florida.

In a 1985 lawsuit, a man alleged that his three young altar-boy sons had been fondled and sodomized by Authenrieth at St. Mary’s. The priest allegedly threatened the boys with the “wrath of God” to keep quiet. No action was taken. Their father said when he told St. Mary’s pastor about the abuse, his response was that he should “pray,” and “It’s not for you to judge. That’s for God to do.” A fourth man alleging abuse by Authenrieth at St. Mary’s during the same time period also filed a civil suit.

Authenrieth admitted to fondling the four boys, and the cases were settled. At least $2 million was paid out to three of the victims. The fourth settled for $490,000.

In a deposition, he said he had brought more than one hundred men to St. Mary’s for sex. He also testified that his reason for leaving Brooklyn was that a young male parishioner, “about 18”, threatened to reveal that they had engaged in sex. He was never prosecuted because of evidence problems. In October 1985, he was removed from ministry and sent to the House of Affirmation in Massachusetts for treatment. He was laicized in 1986.

A 2002 lawsuit claimed that Authenrieth had sexually abused a boy in the rectory while he served at St. Vincent Ferrer’s in Brooklyn. More allegations surfaced.

In July 2012, a man filed a civil lawsuit alleging he and several other children were sexually abused by Authenrieth in 1978 when the man was a 14-year-old altar boy at St. Mary’s. He said the abuse happened in the sacristy, during sleepovers at the rectory and when the priest invited the boy to his quarters to practice playing the organ.

In October 2013, another lawsuit alleged that Authenrieth sexually abused a 14-year-old altar boy in 1983 and 1984 at All Souls in Sanford, Florida. His accuser said he threatened to tell everyone the boy was gay if he told anyone.

In August 2014, he was once again named in a lawsuit alleging that he abused him as a sixth-grade altar boy from 1976 to 1978 at All Souls Church in Sanford, Florida. He said the abuse occurred in the sacristy and in the priest’s living quarters.

In February 2019, Authenrieth’s name appeared on the Diocese of Brooklyn’s list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors. He was last known to have been living in a Massachusetts retirement community in 2014.

He died in June 2015.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Brooklyn. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Brooklyn, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Brooklyn now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your options today.