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Miami priests accused of '80s, '90s abuse

March 16, 2013 at 4:51 PM

MIAMI, March 16 (UPI) -- Sex abuse allegations against two south Florida Roman Catholic priests went unreported to the parishes they served in the 1990s, the alleged victim said.

The accuser, who was awarded an undisclosed settlement from the Archdiocese of Miami, said he was abused by the Rev. Rafael Escala at St. Timothy Catholic Church in West Kendall, Fla., in the 1980s. The accuser said after Escala molested him, the priest threatened to tell his father about the theft, The Miami Herald reported Saturday.

The same man said the Rev. Oscar Mendez sexually assaulted him in the 1990s, also at St. Timothy.

In keeping with rules set forth by U.S. bishops for handling priest abuse allegations, the Miami archdiocese should have notified members of the St. Timothy parish of the allegations, the newspaper said. Church officials said because Escala is deceased and Mendez is in his 80s and in failing health, the priests -- neither of whom have been accused of other sex abuse incidents -- were unable to answer the charges.

Mary Ross Agosta, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, told the Herald the bishop's office had not formally notified parishioners because the accused priests couldn't defend themselves.

"Neither of these priests had been accused before," Agosta said Friday. "We had to be sensitive to the victim, but we also had to be sensitive to the reputations of the accused priests who could not defend themselves."

She said the allegations against Escala would be discussed in April as part of Child Abuse Protection Month.

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