Bond set at $500K for Florida priest accused of sex abuse

Bond set at $500K for Florida priest accused of sex abuse

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Diocese of Venice priest charged with sexually abusing altar boys in the 1980s went before a judge in Iowa where the allegations stem from.

Father Leo Riley had been serving in Port Charlotte since the early 2000s.

Riley was released from a Florida jail on a $100,000 bond. He went before a judge in Iowa who set his new bond five times higher at $500,000.

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Riley is charged with five counts of sexual abuse. He was ordained a priest in 1982 and was assigned to 17 different Parishes within the Archdiocese of Dubuque until 2002. He then requested a transfer to Florida.

The criminal complaint alleges Riley abused four altar boys in the 1980’s while he served at the Resurrection Church in Dubuque.

It also details how the alleged victims, then-altar boys in Iowa, were forced to drink wine and endure sexual assaults, sometimes forcing them to assault one another.

Riley was arrested at his Port Charlotte home last month. In Charlotte County, he was a Priest at Saint Charles Borromeo and San Antonio Catholic Church.

Attorney Guy Cook is arguing Riley’s innocence.

“Appreciate that these charges, no matter how salacious, are proof of nothing. Father Leo Riley is, to those people who know him well, a person of upstanding moral character, an honest man, and a person who would not commit these kinds of acts,” Cook said.

Riley has denied the allegations.

One man, who wants to publicly share his story but not his name, said he, too, is a victim of abuse by Riley — abuse that he alleges happened after Riley transferred to Florida.

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“As a child, I attended Saint Charles school in Port Charlotte, where Father Leo Riley repeatedly abused me for years,” the alleged victim said.

Now the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

“If the accusations are true, then we have had a sexual predator living among us in Charlotte County that was trusted by far too many people simply because of his position,” Sheriff Bill Prummell said. “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. It doesn’t matter when it happened; but what does matter is that the truth needs to be shared and justice needs to be served. We stand with you.”

“If you were abused by this man, you are not alone there is help available to you,” the alleged victim said.

Riley’s bond had been set at $500,000. If he were to bond out of jail, the judge set conditions, which include being placed into the custody of the Department of Corrections, and would be required to stay at a halfway house in Iowa. He would also have a strict no contact order with all of his alleged victims.

Riley is expected to be back in court on May 22.

Anyone with information about Riley or anyone who has been a victim is asked to call the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office at 941-639-2101.

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