St. Augustine's Bishop Supports Fla. AG's Catholic Church Investigation

Oct 4, 2018

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a new online tip form Thursday as part of her department’s ongoing investigation into seven Catholic dioceses in the state.

Bondi said the webpage is for people to report allegations of past child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Florida.

Related: Stop Abuse Complaint Form

“Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the church and a threat to society,” said Bondi. “I am calling on victims and anyone with information about potential abuse to please report it to my office.”

Bishop Felipe J. Estévez
Credit Diocese of St. Augustine

Bishop Felipe Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine said he supports the investigation.

“This has been a very painful period for all Catholics. I hope the outcome of this investigation and other acts of transparency by the dioceses in Florida will bring about greater trust in the Church. Our goals are similar – to ensure the safety of all children and vulnerable adults and to prevent perpetrators of abuse from serving in active ministry,” said Estévez in an email to WJCT News.

Estévez's diocese has a victim assistance coordinator who can be contacted at 904-208-6979 or by email at VAC@dosafl.com. The diocese has additional information about how to report abuse here.

Bondi launched the statewide investigation following a grand jury report detailing decades of child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania.

Video: Bondi's News Conference

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also involved in the state's investigation. “FDLE will work with the Office of Statewide Prosecution and State Attorneys to independently review records of the Catholic Church to ensure any allegations have been reported and investigated,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. 

The roughly 900 page Pennsylvania report that triggered Florida's investigation is available here.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.