May 24, 2005

Florida man sues priest, diocese; alleges molestation attempt in Ga.

Tallahassee Democrat

Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla. - A 49-year-old man sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee and a now-retired priest Tuesday, saying that 34 years ago, when he was 15, the priest tried to molest him in a Georgia motel room.

The Circuit Court suit accuses Monsignor Richard Bowles of disrobing and demanding oral sex from Paul Tugwell, then 15, during a 1971 trip to Callaway Gardens at Pine Mountain, Ga. Tugwell said he refused Bowles request.

The suit also alleges that diocese officials failed to report the matter to police when Tugwell's parents complained and transferred Bowles from one parish to another "thereby perpetuating his harm to others."

"I don't think there's a day that goes by that I haven't thought about it," Tugwell said at a news conference. "For a long time I pretty much pushed it away to not have to deal with it, but when the Boston cases came out I felt I needed to do something about it."

Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after the disclosure that he had moved predatory priests to new church assignments without notifying parishioners. His archdiocese settled more than 550 lawsuits for $85 million. The Boston complaints led to similar allegations and thousands of lawsuits across the nation.

Posted by kshaw at May 24, 2005 08:21 PM