In October 2018, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that her office was opening a comprehensive investigation into allegations that Florida’s seven Catholic dioceses had engaged in a widespread coverup of sexual abuse allegations involving priests. Bondi’s announcement followed the release of the landmark Pennsylvania Attorney General’s report into five Catholic dioceses, which resulted in the disclosure that more than 300 Catholic priests had been accused of sexual abuse there. Other states’ Attorneys General have since released similar reports.
The Florida investigation is particularly important because Florida became a dumping ground for problem priests for several decades as the Florida Catholic community grew and bishops up north wanted to get rid of older priests who had been the subject of allegations. A flock of unsuspecting parishioners has long been tended to by wolves with collars, and usually with little to no warnings to the faithful about the risks to their children.
“Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the church and a threat to society,” Bondi said in her October 2018 press conference. We could not agree more.
But where is the Florida Attorney General’s report? It is now nearly two years since the investigation was opened and survivors and the Catholic faithful have no more answers than they did in 2018.
Earlier this week, the Twitter account of the SNAP Florida organization, which is dedicated to the advocacy and support of survivors of clergy sexual abuse, quoted an official in the AG’s office, Rita Pavan Peters. According to the Tweet, Ms. Pavan Peters stated “[w]e’re in the final stages of our review. I anticipate information being released in the near future.”
As advocates and attorneys for clergy sexual abuse victims in Florida, we implore our colleagues in the Attorney General’s office to complete their investigation and publish their findings. Our attorneys have been involved in clergy sexual abuse cases in Florida for decades, and we know it is no small task to review the endless evidence of hurt kids and coverups, but enough is enough. Survivors deserve to see the truth they all know in black and white.
We hope that the information on the SNAP Twitter account is accurate and that we will see this report very soon. We hope that the report is transparent and complete. And we sincerely hope that it leads to a revolution of Florida laws that currently close the courthouse doors to most survivors of sexual abuse because they did not come forward in their twenties, when the average age to report sexual abuse for the first time is 52. Florida’s clergy sexual abuse survivors deserve accountability and healing.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Catholic Dioceses of Florida. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Florida, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Florida and nationwide. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.