Priest abused me 20 years ago, man says
Archdiocese of Miami accused of concealing information
By Madeline Baró Diaz
Posted November 29 2006
A Sunrise man filed alawsuit Tuesday against the Archdiocese of Miami, saying a priestabused him more than 20 years ago when he was an altar boy at a southMiami-Dade County church.
JohnKleer, 35, said he came forward after another man sued the archdiocesein October, accusing the same priest, the Rev. Gustavo Miyares, ofabusing him after they met at a Catholic summer camp in Boynton Beach.Miyares, longtime pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church inHialeah, resigned after the allegations came to light and can no longerserve as a priest.
"It literally jolted me," Kleer said. "I felt I could come forward and it wasn't just me against a priest."
Thesuit filed in Miami-Dade court accuses the archdiocese of concealinginformation about Miyares' abuse of children and seeks more than $10million in damages.
The archdiocese released a statementsaying that before the summer camp accusations, "there were no priorallegations or information to indicate Miyares did or would engage inany type of inappropriate or abusive behavior."
Unlike many plaintiffs in clergy abuse cases, Kleer did not file his suit anonymously.
OnTuesday afternoon, Kleer and his attorney, Jeffrey Herman, held a newsconference at St. Timothy Catholic Church, where Kleer said the abusetook place. Kleer said he hoped that by going public, he wouldencourage others to do the same.
Speaking softly, Kleerapproached a bank of television microphones and offered a few briefcomments before he was overcome with emotion and stepped away.
Later, in response to reporters' questions, he said he told a friendabout the abuse when they were children, confided in his wife a fewyears ago and told his mother about the abuse a month ago.
Kleersaid the abuse began when he was 12 years old and lasted until he wasabout 15. At the time, he was an altar boy under Miyares' supervisionat St. Timothy's and hoped to become a priest. According to the suit,Miyares, 59, groomed Kleer by giving him special treatment, evenoffering him wine that was to be used for Mass.
When Kleerquestioned the sexual touching, Miyares told the boy that it was thekind of thing he would have to do to become a priest and he would go tohell if he told anyone about it, the suit said. Kleer began hiding toavoid church services on Sunday and stopped going to church after hisconfirmation, he said.
"It's destroyed me," Kleer said. "It destroyed my family."
InOctober, a 39-year-old man also filed suit against the archdiocese,accusing Miyares and another priest of forcing him into sex acts afterhe met the priests at a summer camp at St. Vincent de Paul RegionalSeminary in Boynton Beach when he was 14.
An archdiocese spokesperson said a list of the churches where Miyares served was not immediately available.
Thearchdiocese encouraged those who have been sexually abused by prieststo call its Victims Assistance Coordinator at 866-802-2873 as well aslaw enforcement authorities.
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