Accused molester leaves church-owned property near school after FOX 4 exposes him
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Catholic Diocese of Venice is changing course amid growing outrage over how it's handled a former eucharistic minister arrested for the molestation of a boy he met through St. Francis Xavier Church in Fort Myers.
Yesterday, church officials told us they would continue allowing the suspect to live on church property, just yards from the church elementary school.
The diocese said the suspect "had rights" to live there.
That left many in the community wanting to know why the church would take that stance after the police report indicated the suspect, Robert Little, admitted to molesting the boy, said he had done similar things to other children and often fantasizes about it.
4 In Your Corner's Dave Culbreth took those community concerns to the Diocese again today - getting the Diocese to change course.
Little was told to leave the church owned property today.
But the church is still facing allegations that it was told Little made advances on another child - an altar boy - three years ago, and still let him stay on as Eucharistic minister.
In the Catholic religion, Eucharistic ministers have a special privledge shared only with ordained priests - to administer the bread and wine that Catholics believe to be the body and blood of Christ.
The lawyer for alleged victim from three years ago says he's suprised the church didn't take action sooner with Little living on church property..
He said it's painfully obvious that you can't have people who admit to having dark sexual thoughts about children near a school or church.
"You don't want them around something that would cause them fantasies," says attorney Scott Goldberg.
"And by his own confession, Mr. Little said that that was what he was doing."
Robert Little, 74, was arrested and charged last week with a felony related to molesting a young boy who is not Goldberg's client.
Goldberg says getting Little to leave the property - which is just yards from St. Francis Xavier Elementary School, is the least the diocese could do.
"You have to give the church, and you have to give the Diocese, a little bit of credit for doing the right thing," he says.
"And you also have to give them a little bit of a break that they can't just run out and evict somebody," adds Goldberg.
Having said that, he wants to know why they didn't get rid of the guy after he told them Little molested his client three years ago.
"The bigger problem that you have is that the diocese is still trying to tell the parents that there was no warning about this," says Goldberg.
"And clearly that's a problem for me."
"It's a problem for my clients." explained Goldberg.
"There was clearly a warning three years ago," he says.
"There was clearly information that they had that they could have removed this person," Goldberg said.
It wasn't until FOX4 exposed Miller earlier this week, that something was done.
"Since FOX's coverage, now they're doing something," said Goldberg.
"Should they have done something the day that he got arrested? Yes."
"Should he have been out (of church owned housing) a week ago? Yes," adds Goldberg.
"That doesn't matter, he's out now."
"The children are in a safer environment and everybody should be much happier." added Goldberg.
"But doesn't that also beg the question that if we hadn't gotten involved what, if anything, would have happened?" asked Fox reporter Dave Culbreth.
"Not only begs the question," says Goldberg.
"But it goes back to the old playbook that the Catholic Church has done for a long time and that's to hide it's sins," Goldberg answered.
"I think we have a new pope," he says.
"I think we have a new beginning."
"I think things are changing and hopefully the Diocese of Venice is going to change with it," he adds.
In a statement emailed to Fox 4 today, the Diocese of Venice said: "Due to the seriousness of the statements made by Little, which were documented by police, and for the good of the parishioners, students, parents of students, as well as the neighboring community, Mr. Little was asked to vacate the premises immediately and he agreed to this request, as well as to not return or be around the parish campus".