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Port Charlotte priest arrested for sex abuse has history of similar allegations

Leo P. Riley faces five capital sexual battery charges.
Posted at 8:33 PM, Apr 25, 2024

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — A Port Charlotte priest arrested for capital sexual battery charges has been accused of similar crimes in the past, documents show.

According to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Leo Patrick Riley was arrested on April 24, and faces five capital sexual battery charges that allegedly took place in the 1980’s when Riley was a priest in Dubuque, Iowa.

Leo P Riley.png

CCSO said investigators worked with the Dubuque Police Department after allegations of Riley’s abuse came to light in May 2023. At the time, Riley was a priest at the San Antonio Catholic Church in Port Charlotte.

San Antonio Catholic Church
Riley was placed on administrative leave from his assignment at San Antonio Catholic Church in May 2023, after sexual abuse allegations came to light.

The Diocese of Venice Florida told Fox 4 it was made aware of the allegations in May and immediately placed Riley on administrative leave. A spokesperson said he has not returned to the church since then.

The Dubuque Police Department published a press release stating four victims had come forward claiming Riley had sexually abused them from 1984-1986, when they were school-aged boys, all serving as altar boys of Resurrection Parish.

According to the Archdiocese of Dubuque, a previous sexual abuse allegation was made against Riley in 2014.

In a statement, the Archdiocese cleared Riley of wrongdoing in 2015:

“The best information available does not support a reasonable belief that the allegation is true. Therefore, in the matter of the accusation made against Father Riley, unless additional evidence is presented, there is no need to pursue it any further.”
Archdiocese of Dubuque

The Archdiocese of Dubuque said there were no known allegations made against Riley before he requested a transfer to the Diocese of Venice Florida in 2002, and the request was granted in 2005.

A day after Riley’s arrest on April 25, Mallard Perez, a personal injury law firm in Sarasota, published a statement stating a client had brought a civil case against Riley. The person claims they had been sexually abused by Riley in Charlotte County in the early 2000's.

After Riley’s arrest, Sheriff Bill Prummell stated there could be additional victims in southwest Florida.

“It is likely that there are more victims, and I encourage them to come forward so that we can make sure this type of heinous thing does not happen to anyone else here," he said.

Riley briefly appeared in court on April 25, but his case was continued because his attorney was not present. He is expected to return to court on April 26, before he is extradited to Iowa.

Leo Riley in Court
Leo Riley appeared briefly in court on April 25.

CCSO asked anyone with information about Riley’s alleged crimes, or if they believe they were abused by Riley, to contact CCSO’s non-emergency number at (941) 639-2101.