A Miami jury awarded a $100 million verdict on Thursday against a retired Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing dozens of boys, reported The Washington Post. The priest Neil Doherty reportedly solicited trust from the boys through priestly advice, free meals and clothing. His offerings soon turned into drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and alcohol. Once they were drugged, he would sexually abuse them.
Doherty is currently held in Broward County jail on a separate case of child sex abuse. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge, reported the Miami Digital Journal.
While the award is the largest in the United States against an individual priest, the Post reports that it is not evident how the victims will collect compensation. Doherty likely has no assets to settle the claim, and the lawsuit did not name the Archdiocese of Miami.
Nonetheless, the victims say the verdict delivers justice, whether or not they will benefit from the award.
“That man for me is like the devil…He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing…What he did to me, it’s unforgivable. It’s something I’m going to have to live with the rest of my life…I feel that justice has been served. It’s just really satisfying that my voice has been heard,” one victim, Andres Susana, told The Miami Herald.
Susana’s pain echoes the hurt and resentment felt by American Indian across North America, whose lives were destroyed by the Catholic boarding school system and years of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests.