Lawsuit: Religious Brother abused boy at Tampa school

- For 40 years, a man named in a new lawsuit as John Doe has been hiding allegations that he was sexually abused as a child at Tampa Catholic school Mary Help of Christians.

The school is now defunct, but the religious order that ran it, the Salesians of Don Bosco, does operate a church on the school's old property in East Tampa.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Hillsborough County names Brother John Casula as the abuser.

Casula was an auto shop teacher and religious leader at the school. He died in 1994.

Casula's accuser says the abuse began in 1976 when he was 12 and continued for two years. During that time, the accuser says Casula touched and fondled him on nearly 20 separate occasions in a secluded auto shop at the school. The lawsuit alleges the school knew about other abuse allegations against Casula and other brothers or priests, but did not report the abuse and protected the abusers.

Lawyer Joseph Saunders is representing the new accuser. He says he's sued the Salesian order almost a dozen times in the last 10 years over similar allegations. Each lawsuit resulted in a settlement and the alleged abusers have never been held criminally responsible.

"Priests and brothers in that order took advantage of the most vulnerable and that's referring not only to the predators, but the ones who covered it up and allowed them to continue," said Saunders.

Saunders' client is coming forward now as part of the healing process.

"I just hope and pray that if there's anyone else out there that they can step forward, that they can keep their head up now," the accuser said.

The Salesian order, whose U.S. headquarters is in New Rochelle, New York, have not returned several requests for comments on the allegations.

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