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Florida clergyman receives serious sex abuse sentence

It's no secret that in any case involving sex abuse or other sex-related charges, the potential consequences that come attached to a "guilty" verdict are myriad and gravely serious. Serious fines and jail time are one thing, but a conviction on sex offenses also carries a life-long social stigma in the general public.

Usually held in very high regard in their communities, one group of Americans that has come under serious and very public scrutiny in connection to decades of sex offenses has been the church clergy. It now appears that right here in Florida yet another priest has received an extended jail sentence on account of his history of sexual deviancy.

The Father in question, a 69-year-old man from south Florida, received a sentence that included a maximum of 15 years in prison as part of a plea deal that lessened his charges. After being accused of drugging and sexually assaulting one of his teenaged Margate parishioners in the 1990s, the man pled no contest to charges including lewd and lascivious conduct on a minor.

Allegedly, the priest's case stemmed from an incident in which the man gave a young boy soda laced with drugs. After losing consciousness, the victim revived while being assaulted by the man. The case's specific accusations have come as but a part of the at least 27 other accusations of sex abuse lodged against the Florida priest since 1972.

A previous civil lawsuit lodged by the victim against the man was already awarded a symbolic $100 million victory-a sum which is among the highest individual judgments in a case involving a priest's past sexual discretions.

The consequences of a sex crime conviction cannot be understated, and those who may find themselves up against one should avail themselves of every legal resource available. Even if an outright dismissal of charges appears impossible, a lessening of charges and mediation of sentencing can be made all the more likely by working closely with an experienced attorney.

Source: Huffington Post, "Neil Doherty, South Florida Priest, Sentenced on Child Sex Abuse Charges," Jan. 28, 2013

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