Garcia disclosed the outcome of the investigation to parishioners at Mass in late August. His accuser filed a lawsuit in September.
Then, this week, Simmons filed his suit against Garcia.
In an unusually assertive tone, the archdiocese reprimanded the media for failing to ask tougher questions of the alleged victim’s lawyer, Herman. He is a longtime adversary who has brought more than 100 lawsuits against the archdiocese since the clergy sex-abuse scandal broke a decade ago. The archdiocese has settled the vast majority of them, paying out tens of millions of dollars.
“Here are some suggestions to facilitate the media reporting a balanced story,” the archdiocese’s communications director, Mary Ross Agosta, wrote in Tuesday’s statement to the media.
“How did Mr. Herman find this alleged victim? . . . Why did the alleged victim wait so long to come forward? . . . Did this alleged victim tell anyone about this alleged abuse: the police, his parents, his teachers? Why was he homeless? What happened? Where did the alleged victim sleep? Does the alleged victim have any family? What does the alleged victim do now?”
During Tuesday’s news conference at St. Agatha, Herman described his client, Simmons, as “a highly decorated veteran who never really saw himself as a victim because he’s what we call a ‘compliant victim.’ ”
David Clohessy, a spokesman for the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, a national advocacy group, condemned the archdiocese’s response.
“Raising questions about the victim’s family and one-time homelessness is stunningly mean-spirited and irrelevant,” Clohessy said.
At the news conference, Simmons said his sexual relationship with Garcia lasted from 1994 until he joined the U.S. Army in 2003. But he still called the priest.
During a phone conversation last week, Simmons said Garcia revealed that he had recently been accused of sexual abuse. “As soon as I found out that I was not the only person, it was my duty to really say something,” Simmons said. He then looked up news reports on the Internet about Garcia, and found the name of the plaintiffs’ attorney, Herman.
Simmons said he suffered multiple injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder while in the Army, from which he was discharged in 2010.
Simmons’ suit seeks more than $5 million in damages from the archdiocese, accusing church officials of covering up Garcia’s history as an alleged sexual predator.
Agosta said that when the archdiocese receives any allegation of sexual abuse, it reports the complaint to authorities, offers counseling to the alleged victim and accused priest, and conducts an internal investigation.
She said the policy — which follows rules set by Catholic bishops nationwide a decade ago — is called “Protecting God’s Children.”