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Miami Archdiocese Faces Two More Lawsuits Over Sexual Abuse Allegations

Nov 19, 2003 | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Two more lawsuits alleging rape were filed against the Miami Archdiocese this week, including one involving the current pastor of St. Vincent de Paul.

The suits filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court on Tuesday allege decades-old abuse by Rev. Hector Gonzalez-Abreum and Rev. Ernesto Garcia-Rubio. In 1988, Garcia-Rubio faced allegations he abused Nicaraguan refugee boys sheltered in his rectory, but the charges were dropped when "no one would admit to being sexually abused," said a report by the Miami Dade State Attorney's Office. New abuse allegations surfaced in 2002, and since then four men have come forward claiming the Garcia-Rubio preyed on them in the 1970s and 1980s.

The first lawsuit filed Tuesday said John Doe No. 14 arrived in Miami in the 1980 Mariel boatlift and was sent to Our Lady of Divine Providence, where he met Garcia-Rubio. The priest plied him with alcohol and cocaine before raping him, according to court files.

The boy reported the abuse to Gonzalez-Abreum, who took the teen to his bedroom at St. Brendan's Catholic Church, the lawsuit says. The priest encouraged the teen to drink a beer and watch a pornographic movie and sexually abused him, documents say.

Gonzalez-Abreu, now pastor at St. Vincent de Paul, says he is innocent and the allegations are "false and groundless."

Mary Ross Agosta, spokeswoman for the Miami Archdiocese, said they have launched an internal investigation, reported the matter to the State Attorney's Office and offered the alleged victim counseling. If the allegations are found "possibly credible," Gonzalez-Abreu may be suspended.

The second lawsuit filed Tuesday claimed Garcia-Rubio molested an 18-year-old teen in 1977. The priest is accused of sodomizing the teen while telling him he "was in the house of God and Garcia-Rubio was there to protect" him.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs have had difficulty finding Garcia-Rubio.

"My understanding is Garcia-Rubio is in Central America building a home or school for children," said attorney for the victims Jeffrey Herman. "He preyed on vulnerable boys who were immigrants coming here without their parents. He made their lives horrible."

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