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Port Charlotte priest faces sexual abuse allegation from former local student

The alleged victim said he endured sexual abuse from Riley between pre-K and eighth grade.
Posted at 8:50 PM, Apr 26, 2024

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — A Charlotte County man has come forward, alleging he was sexually abused as a Catholic school student by Father Leo Riley.

The victim, who asked to be referred to as John Doe, said Riley repeatedly sexually abused him between pre-K and eighth grade, when he was a student at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte in the early 2000s.

John Doe tells reporters about alleged sexual abuse he endured from Leo Riley.

“I never told anybody back then, because he said if I told, he would do to my sister what he was doing to me,” said John Doe.

Riley was arrested on April 24 and faces five counts of capital sexual battery charges, after four alleged victims in Dubuque, Iowa reported Riley abused them in the 1980s when he was a priest there.

John Doe, represented by Attorney Damian Mallard, said the other victims who had come forward helped him find the strength to do the same.

“I buried these memories very deep but I couldn't bury them forever,” said John Doe. “When they started coming back in flashes and nightmares I knew I needed to do something so Riley would not hurt anyone else.”

Mallard said he filed a civil lawsuit against Riley and the Diocese of Venice Florida in 2020, which would have alerted the church to the allegations. Yet, Mallard said Riley was not placed on administrative leave until a different sexual abuse allegation was made against Riley in May 2023.

“Why was Father Riley permitted to stay in his position with access to children for nearly three years after my client became the second person to allege sex abuse by him?,” said Mallard.

Riley was accused of sexual abuse by a Dubuque man in 2014. The Archdiocese of Dubuque said it reported the allegation to the Diocese of Venice and Riley was placed on administrative leave following an investigation. Riley was cleared of wrongdoing in 2015.

On April 26, Riley made his first appearance in front of Judge Paul Alessandroni in Charlotte County, and was granted a $100,000 bond.