Fr. Joseph Keith Symons – Diocese of St. Petersburg

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2021 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Joseph Keith Symons

Diocese of St. Petersburg

Ordained: 1958

Retired: 1998

Assignment History:

  • 1958-1959: St. Monica’s (Palatka, FL)
  • 1959-1961: St. Patrick’s (Pinellas Park, FL)
  • 1961-1962: Sacred Heart (Pinellas Park, FL)
  • 1962-1966: St. Paul’s (Leesburg, FL)
  • 1966-1969: St. John the Apostle (Samoset, FL)
  • 1966-1971: St. Joseph’s (Bradenton, FL)
  • 1971-1981: St. Mary Our Lady of Grace (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • 1981-1983: St. Catherine of Siena (Largo, FL)
  • 1983-1990: Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
  • 1990-1998: Bishop of Palm Beach

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father Keith Symons:

A Michigan native, Joseph Keith Symons was ordained in 1958 for the St. Augustine Diocese. When the Diocese split in 1968, Symons ministered for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. He held numerous chancery positions there, was elevated to Auxiliary Bishop in 1981, and was appointed Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee in 1983.

In 1994, Symons was accused of sexually abusing a minor, and the following year, Symons admitted it. Symons claimed that was his only victim and was allowed to remain in ministry. In 1998, another man disclosed sexual abuse as a child by Symons. Symons resigned several days later and admitted to having sexually abused five boys early in his career. Bishop Symons returned to, Michigan where he lived in a convent and led adult spiritual retreats.

Investigation records show Catholic Church officials were aware that Bishop J. Keith Symons molested altar boys at least three years before he was forced to resign in 1998. Records also show that 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, thus proving injustice.

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 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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