Fr. James Flaherty – Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Abuser Profiles

Fr. James Flaherty

Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee

James Flaherty Horowitz Law


Ordained: 1980

Removed: 2018

Assignment History:

  • 2000-2012: Holy Spirit Parish (Pensacola, FL)
  • 2012. 2017: St. John the Evangelist (Pensacola, FL)
  • 2017-2018: St. Paul (Pensacola, FL)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father James Flaherty

Fr. James Flaherty was a Catholic priest who worked in numerous parishes in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. In July of 2023, a man in his mid-20s and his mother courageously spoke up about horrific allegations of sexual abuse against a retired priest in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee named Father James Flaherty. This occurred despite the passing of the statute of limitations for potential criminal charges.

According to media reports, after 12 years of silence, a mid-20-year-old man and his mother reported to Escambia County Sheriff’s Office that Monsignor James Flaherty sexually abused him when he was a teenager in 2011. To provide a supportive and secure atmosphere after struggling with bullying, his mother migrated him to St. John the Evangelist, a private Catholic school in Pensacola. Father James Flaherty quickly became a friend to the young boy who craved comfort, and his mother was assured that her child would be “kept under the priest’s wing.”

These soothing words soon paved a path for some grievous exploits. The aggrieved victim alleges that Father Flaherty pursued an inappropriate relationship with him upon arrival, a relationship that quickly escalated to sexual abuse. According to the victim, the abuse began shortly after being registered in the sixth grade, persisting until mid-seventh grade, towards 2011 and 2012.

Facing the Unthinkable

The patterns of abuse seemingly remained veiled under what appeared as innocent help. The victim told Escambia County Sheriff’s Office that Father Flaherty would frequently ask him to aid him in moving furniture in the rectory. The secluded environment facilitated Father Flaherty’s dissolution into sexual misconduct.

An uncanny twist came in 2018 when Father Flaherty was unexpectedly removed from his roles as a judicial vicar and director of priestly formation. The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee released a statement that acknowledged his dismissal but refrained from elucidating specifics regarding the reason. Furthermore, the dismissal followed a fellow priest and two parishioners approaching the bishop with “non-specific concerns,” which were dealt with swiftly within two days of the occurrence.

Investigations unveiled multiple transfers for Father Flaherty throughout the years, some as recent as one year before his removal. Complaints of improper sexual conduct with adult parishioners had surfaced, although none involved minor victims, hence were not subjected to reporting.

A Beacon for Other Survivors

Some may find solace in the fact that this revelation has the potential to pave the way for other survivors to come forward. It has often been observed that in cases involving child sex offenders, there is rarely a singular victim. The bravery of this victim in both reporting to the police and speaking up in public has the potential to shed light on the murky underbelly of such misdeeds. His words resonate with hope:

“Considering the statutes have already passed, he’s not going to prison,” the Pensacola man explained, “I just hope that with my police report and hopefully this article, some more people will come forward, and maybe a kid who’s experiencing this now will be able to come forward to put the (expletive) behind bars.”

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee 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. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.