Fr. James E. Russo – Diocese of St. Petersburg

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2021 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father James E. Russo

Diocese of St. Petersburg

Ordained: 1970

Left Ministry: 1997

Laicized: 2016

Assignment History:

  • 1971 St. Bartholomew’s (Elmhurst, NY)
  • 1972-1976 St. Thomas Apostle (Woodhaven, NY)
  • 1977 St. Virgilius (Broad Channel, NY)
  • 1978-1979 Holy Family (Brooklyn, NY)
  • 1980-1981 On Duty Outside the Diocese; St. Patrick (Largo, FL)
  • 1982 Released From Diocesan Assignment; Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1983-1987 Blessed Trinity (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1984-1985 Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1988-1997 St. Michael the Archangel (Clearwater, FL)
  • 1991-1994 Catholic Charities (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1995-2020 Unknown

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father James E. Russo:

Father James E. Russo was the long-time president of Catholic Charities and was the diocese’s head of worship for many years, the person who helped guide liturgical policy in the diocese. According to media reports, in 1997, he was accused of sexually abusing a minor boy in the 1970s. He resigned as pastor of St. Michael’s in St. Petersburg in January 1997 because of “emotional items”. Within a week Bishop Lynch told the parish that “an episode of misconduct occurred many years ago” between Father Russo and an unidentified minor. Other victims subsequently came forward.

In 2003, he was named in a civil lawsuit involving 24 priests, in which he was accused of sexually abusing a minor boy in the late 1970s while at St. Virgilius in Broad Channel, New York. The suit alleged that Father Russo, who was in charge of altar boys, sexually abused a boy who was about 12 years old, taking him to his room in the rectory and forcing him to remove his clothes, where he fondled him. He was ultimately laicized in September 2016.

In February 2019, Father Russo’s name appeared publicly on the Diocese of Brooklyn’s list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors. He is also listed on the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s 2016 List of
Clergy Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of St. Petersburg in 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.

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