January 27, 2005

Fifth molestation lawsuit filed against priest

Miami Herald


A Miami-Dade County man claims a controversial Catholic priest sexually abused him more than three decades ago, when he was between the ages of 8 and 10 and enrolled in catechism classes.

Jose Lopez-Trigo, 40, alleges in a lawsuit that during the three years leading up to his first Holy Communion at St. Kieran's Church in Miami, in 1974, ``he was a repeated victim of sexual abuse in which depraved acts of pedophilia were committed by [the Rev. Ricardo] Castellanos upon him.''

The Miami-Dade state attorney's office said it received a copy of the civil complaint this week and has referred the matter to Miami police for a criminal investigation.

Since the nationwide clergy sex-abuse scandal broke in 2002, Miami-Dade prosecutors have been stymied in all but one of their numerous investigations of molestation claims in the Archdiocese of Miami because the statute of limitations had expired. But this case could gain momentum because the alleged victim was under 12 years of age, and no statute of limitations applies for certain sex-battery offenses.

Castellanos, 59, denied the latest accusations through his attorney. He has been on administrative leave as pastor of San Isidro Church in Pompano Beach.

Castellanos, accused of sexual abuse in four now-settled lawsuits with the archdiocese, has always maintained his innocence.

''We believe that the [latest] allegations are false,'' said attorney James Nosich. ``Castellanos has absolutely no recollection of this person.''

Posted by kshaw at January 27, 2005 08:00 AM