Fr. Joseph Keith Symons – Diocese of Palm Beach

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2021 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Joseph Keith Symons

Diocese of Palm Beach

Ordained: 1958

Resigned: 1998

Assignment History:

  • 1958-1959:  St. Monica’s (Palatka, FL)
  • 1958:  St. John Manor (FL)
  • 1958-1968:  Diocesan Tribunal (St. Augustine, FL)
  • 1959:  good Counsel Camp (Floral City, FL)
  • Unknown:  St. Jude’s (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • Unknown:  St. Ignatius (Tarpon Springs, FL)
  • 1959-1961:  St. Patrick’s (Pinellas Park (Largo), FL)
  • 1961-1962:  Sacred Heart (Pinellas Park, FL)
  • 1962-1966:  St. Paul’s (Leesburg, FL)
  • 1962-1966:  St. Lawrence (Bushnell, FL)
  • 1966-1968:  Episcopal Vicars (St. Augustine, FL)
  • 1966-1971:  St. Joseph’s (Bradenton, FL)
  • 1968-1969:  Sacred Heart (Bradenton, FL)
  • 1971-1981:  St. Mary Our Lady of Grace (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1968-1983:  Building Commission (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1969-1974:  Liturgical Commission (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1979-1980:  Liturgical Commission (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1968-1983:  Liaison Commission for Interdenominational Affairs/Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1968-1983:  Commission for Communications Media (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1969-1974:  Realty Board (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1979-1980:  Realty Board (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1971-1983:  Vicars General (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1971-1980:  Diocesan Consultors (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1981-1983:  Diocesan Consultors (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1971-1974:  Vicar for Religious Women (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1971-1981:  Financial Advisory Board (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1981-1983:  Financial (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1973-1981:  Chancellor (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1974-1980:  Master of Ceremonies (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1981-1983:  Incardination Commission (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1978-1983:  Priests’ Personnel Committee (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1981-1983:  Diocesan Advisory Board (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1981-1983:  St. Catherine of Siena (Largo, FL)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Joseph K. Symons:

Fr. Joseph K. Symons was ordained in 1958 for the Diocese of St. Augustine, where he became a member of the diocesan Tribunal and an Episcopal Vicar. Symons was known for recruiting young people to the church and for his progressive outreach programs. He directed several camps for children, one of which he had founded.

When the diocese split in 1968, Symons ministered for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. He held numerous chancery positions in his new diocese. While serving as St. Petersburg’s Chancellor in the early 1970s, he accepted into the diocese a known perpetrator of sexual abuse of children. Symons quietly left cash for the mother of two of that priest’s victims when she confronted him years later. He denied knowing the priest was a perpetrator. Symons was elevated to Auxiliary Bishop in 1981 and was appointed Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee in 1983.

In 1990, Symons became Bishop of Palm Beach. In 1995, Symons admitted to having sexually abused a boy years earlier after the victim came forward. Symons said he was his only victim and was allowed to remain in ministry. Another man disclosed sexual abuse as a child by Symons in 1998.

In 1998, Symons resigned several days later and admitted to having sexually abused five boys early in his career. One of the former altar boys Symons molested was a 13-year-old boy in which the abuse took place over a 3-year period. Symons returned to his home state of Michigan where he lived in a convent and led adult spiritual retreats.

Symons was last known to be residing in Alma, Michigan.

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