February 17, 2005

S. Florida priests retire amid claims of sexual abuse


By Ihosvani Rodriguez
Miami Bureau
Posted February 17 2005

A suspended South Florida Catholic priest unexpectedly retired last week and a second one said Wednesday he also plans to retire following the latest sexual misconduct lawsuit to hit the Archdiocese of Miami.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, a 40-year-old man identified only as John Doe No. 20, claims at least seven Catholic priests and a church cook sexually abused him during the 1980's. The man claims he was also locked and sexually abused inside of an Atlanta church basement by a different priest he went to seeking refuge.

The lawsuit names the Rev. Ricardo Castellanos, former pastor of San Isidro Church in Pompano Beach, as one of the abusers. The archdiocese placed Castellanos on administrative leave in 2002 following multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him in different cases.

Castellanos, who was awaiting a church tribunal, turned in his resignation last week, said his attorney, James Nosich.

"He wasn't afraid of being defrocked or defending himself at a tribunal," Nosich said. "He's retiring to allow his parish to get back in track."

Assisting the man in his lawsuit is the Rev. Hector Gonzalez-Abreu, who claims that in the 1980s Castellanos and another priest, the Rev. Ernesto Garcia Rubio, admitted abusing the alleged victim when he was a teen.

Posted by kshaw at February 17, 2005 06:50 AM