A 52-year-old Orange County man has filed a legal complaint against the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, claiming he was sexually abused by a priest in Seminole County over 35 years ago.

The victim's 13-page complaint, dated Monday, details years of sexual abuse at the hands of Father William Authenrieth, then an associate pastor at All Souls Catholic Church in Sanford, where the plaintiff served as an altar boy.

According to the plaintiff, identified only as "GS Doe" in the complaint to protect his privacy, the alleged abuse took place between January 1976 and July 1978, while he was in sixth- to eighth-grade. The incidents happened in the church's sacristy and the priest's living quarters.

The complaint said Father Authenrieth convinced the victim that "sexual contact between a child and a priest was completely normal."

In the complaint, the victim demands compensatory damages from the Diocese of Orlando and Bishop John Noonan, claiming the diocese "responsible for the actions of its servants."

Authenrieth was removed from ministry in 1985 and left the priesthood in 1986, according to the Diocese of Orlando. He currently lives in Massachusetts.

According to the complaint, Authenrieth had a history of sexually abusing boys and directed them to remain silent about it on multiple occasions.

Carol Brinati, chancellor for administration for the Diocese of Orlando, sent News 13 the following statement Wednesday regarding the complaint:

The Diocese of Orlando has not been served with the civil lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by William Authenrieth, a former priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Most Reverend Thomas Grady (deceased) removed William Authenrieth from ministry on October 22, 1985, and William Authenrieth left the priesthood in 1986.

The recent allegation involved sexual misconduct during the time William Authenrieth served at All Souls Catholic Church in Sanford between January 1976 – July 1978. 

We are saddened at the allegation of abuse which occurred more than thirty-five years ago. We pray for this person and those who have been victims of acts of abuse by any person. We pray that the healing process may begin for each one of them.

“What it boils down to is an allegation that the Diocese of Orlando knew that William Authenreith posed a risk of harm to children and failed to take adequate measures to protect the children,” said attorney Adam Horowitz.

The complaintant is suing the Diocese of Orlando for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and vicarious liability.

Attorney David Adam Horowitz said they are not pursuing a lawsuit against Father Authenreith. They did go to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, but the report of abuse is now beyond the statute of limitations.