Former altar boy files sex-abuse lawsuit against Orlando Catholic Church who protected priest

by John Chapman

A man has filed a lawsuit filed against the Catholic Diocese of Orlando alleging that the diocese covered up sexual abuse by a Catholic priest that the man endured when he was a fourteen year-old serving as an altar boy. The lawsuit alleges that Father William Authenrieth fondled the boy and warned him not to disclose the sexual acts or the priest would tell everyone the altar boy was gay. The suit alleges that, after learning of the molestation, the diocese transferred Authenrieth to another parish but did nothing to punish him.

The now 44 year-old man, referred to as “John Doe” in court papers, had no memory of the sexual abuse until seeing a report about another man who sued the diocese over allegations that Authenrieth also molested him while he was an altar boy at St. Mary’s Church in Rockledge in 1978. In subsequent months, John experienced depression, anxiety, and restlessness, according to the lawsuit.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the earlier lawsuit involving the boy at St. Mary’s alleged the abuse took place when Authenrieth invited the boy to his residence. The priest also allegedly abused boys during sleepovers at his residence, and in the church sacristy, where he was alone with them behind locked doors. In 1985, four boys sued the diocese alleging abuse by Authenrieth from 1978 to 1983 at St. Mary’s. Authenrieth admitted molesting the boys but was not prosecuted because of evidence problems. He was asked to leave the priesthood and did so in 1986.

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by John Chapman

John Chapman is a licensed attorney with experience in complex commercial litigation (including securities fraud, RICO, shareholder oppression, and derivative actions) and personal injury litigation.