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A jury has awarded an unprecedented $100 million in the Miami priest sex abuse case involving Rev. Neil Doherty.
Andres Susana, 40, had testified to his encounters with the priest while he was a 14-year-old runaway. Doherty befriended him and other teens with free food and advice, which later turned to marijuana and cocaine.
Next came the sexual abuse.
The large verdict in this particular Miami priest sex abuse case may be partially attributable to the fact that Susana did not sue the Archdiocese. Without the backing of the Church, Neil Doherty was likely unable to settle. It was therefore one of the few such cases that have gone to trial.
Unfortunately, it is for this very reason that it is unlikely the victim will collect the entirety of the award. Doherty is currently in prison awaiting trial on a number of other allegations, and simply does not have the money.
Regardless, the $100 million abuse verdict is a big deal when one considers charges recently filed against Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. It sends a message that the public is fed up with those who use their authority to abuse young children.
Sandusky will also probably face civil suits while he awaits trial. However, his victims are likely to see more money than those of Neil Doherty. He makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year between his charity and coaching jobs. There also appears to be a strong case against Penn State.
Regardless, advocates suggest that verdicts like those in the Miami priest sex abuse case validate victims. So even if Neil Doherty never pays, Andres Susana has put the Church on notice.