LONG ISLAND DIOCESE DROPPED FROM SUIT (Only priest left in Florida case)
A Florida judge has dropped the Diocese of Rockville Centre from a sexual misconduct lawsuit, saying the man who filed it waited too long to accuse church officials of negligence. The Palm Beach Diocese, which also had been named, was dropped too. That left only one defendant, a former Long Island priest, the Rev. Matthew Fitzgerald. The man who had sued the dioceses said they failed to protect him from Fitzgerald, who was transferred in the 1980s to Palm beach, where the suit was filed in June 2002. The lawsuit says Fitzgerald abused a man identified as John Doe, then 20, in Florida 13 years ago, soon after he emigrated from Ireland. The accuser and his older brother, then 25, filed suit against both diocese and against the priest. The older brother later dropped out of the suit.