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Priest sentenced to 15 years in abuse case

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 11:02 AM
FORT LAUDERDALE -

A retired Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing dozens of boys for decades was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday.

Earlier this month, Father Neil Doherty pleaded no contest in a deal that reduced the sex abuse charges from capital felonies to second-degree felonies. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

The plea comes after several more alleged victims came forward and were planning to testify in the case.

Doherty, who maintains his innocence, is now 69, appears frail and struggles with health problems. His attorney, David Bogenschutz, said he disputed the facts of the state's case but declined to elaborate.

Attorneys for the victims said Doherty befriended troubled young boys for years, plied them with drugs and alcohol and paid them to run errands and do odd jobs. But the relationships often turned to sexual acts.

The victim in this case was about 10 when he said he first walked over to the church from his home, passed out after drinking a drug-laced soda and woke with sodomy wounds. The scenario repeatedly occurred over a five-year period in the late 1990s, attorney Jeff Herman said.

Herman alleges the Archdiocese of Miami turned a blind eye to Doherty's behavior and moved him each time a new allegation surfaced.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami said Doherty has not been in active ministry since 2002.

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