Just a few weeks ago, a man sued the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg alleging that he had been abused as a child by one of its priests.
This week the diocese is being forced to respond to another allegation of priest misconduct, this time by the Rev. Nicholas McLoughlin, who served locally between 1972 and 1982 and has had some trouble at the nearby Diocese of Venice.
According to the Diocese of St. Petersburg, McLoughlin, now 76, is accused of "inappropriate physical contact with a minor" during the 1970s. The incident is alleged to have taken place while the priest was assigned to Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Temple Terrace.
McLoughlin served as pastor of Corpus Christi from 1973 to 1982 and as an associate pastor of St. John Vianney at St. Pete Beach and pastor of the now closed Bishop Barry High School and Notre Dame Academy in St. Petersburg from June 1972 to August 1973. The two schools merged to become St. Petersburg Catholic High School in the 1973-74 school year.
The news was first reported by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which said McLoughlin, now a priest with the Diocese of Venice, had been placed on administrative leave. The Herald-Tribune also reported that Bishop Frank Dewane of the Venice Diocese made the announcement in a letter to parishioners last weekend and said that the allegation bore "a semblance of truth." The newspaper also reported the Venice bishop said he was notified of the alleged abuse by the Diocese of St. Petersburg, which is conducting an investigation.
In its statement, released on its new accountability website, the St. Petersburg Diocese says it has notified the State Attorney’s Office of the allegation against McLoughlin, as well as parishioners at both Corpus Christi and St. John Vianney. The diocese also urged parishioners who are aware of abuse to report it to local law enforcement and to contact the diocese’s victim assistance minister.
McLoughlin and his brother, Edward, a former priest, have been the subject of several articles involving abuse of minors. The Tampa Bay Times reported that in 1997, a former parishioner identified as J.S. filed a lawsuit that accused a music director of molesting him. J.S. said he confided in his priest, Edward McLoughlin, who spanked him and began molesting him as well. J.S. won a $500,000 settlement from the Diocese of Venice. According to the Herald-Tribune, Nicholas McLoughlin was pastor of the parish where the abuse occurred. The lawsuit claimed that the Venice diocesan officials and Nicholas McLoughlin had failed to prevent the abuse.
In the St. Petersburg Diocese, a former parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa recently sued the diocese, alleging that he had been sexually abused as a child by a now-deceased priest. According to the lawsuit, Mark Cattell said he was 9 years old in 1981 when he was sexually abused by the Rev. Robert D. Huneke. Cattell, now 45, was a student at Christ the King Catholic School and attended the parish church.
Senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this article.