MIAMI — Another former altar boy says he was sexually abused in the 1970s by the same retired Catholic priest who acknowledged fondling former Rep. Mark Foley when Foley was a teenager, the man’s attorney said Wednesday.
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The new allegations against the Rev. Anthony Mercieca were made by a man who lived in North Miami and was an altar boy at St. James Catholic Church, where Mercieca worked, attorney Jeffrey Herman said.
Herman said he planned to file a lawsuit Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Miami. His client, now 40 and identified in the lawsuit only as John Doe No. 26, says Mercieca abused him when he was about 12 years old.
“He had been thinking about it before Foley came forward, and then when Foley came out and the church encouraged other victims to come forward, he decided to come forward,” Herman said.
The man said “all of my nightmares came back” when Mercieca’s picture appeared on the news last week amid Foley’s claims that the priest had molested him. Foley had resigned amid accusations that he sent sexually explicit messages to teenage boys who had worked on Capitol Hill.
Mercieca, 69, now lives on the Maltese island of Gozo in the Mediterranean. No one answered the phone at his home Wednesday. His lawyer, Alfred Grech, did not return calls to his cell phone.
'No information to indicate' abuse
Archdiocese of Miami spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta, asked about the latest allegations, said: “Any of this type of behavior by Father Mercieca was unknown to the archdiocese and we had absolutely no information to indicate that the father did or would engage in any type of inappropriate or abusive behavior.”
The Miami Archdiocese barred Mercieca from all church work as it investigates Foley’s claim that the clergyman molested him when Foley was an altar boy at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lake Worth in 1967.
Mercieca is now retired and does not serve in any parish, but he regularly celebrates Mass and hears confession in the cathedral on Gozo, according to the Archdiocese of Malta.
In multiple interviews last week, Mercieca denied having sexual intercourse with Foley, but he did acknowledge being nude with him when Foley was a boy.
Mercieca also denied having sex with any underage children.
Herman said his client and Mercieca took a bicycle ride together one day after altar boy practice and then returned to the church where the abuse occurred.
“It was fondling and he performed oral sex on the boy,” Herman said. “He attempted on another occasion following altar boy practice, but the boy declined to go on this bike ride and he never went back to the church after that.”
Mercieca served as an assistant pastor at the church from 1975 to 1985, according to church records.
Foley resigned from Congress last month after he was confronted with sexually explicit computer communications he had sent to male teenage pages who worked on Capitol Hill. He has since entered a 30-day rehabilitation program for alcoholism, according to his attorneys.
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