Texas Priest faces Sexual Abuse Charges

(Sept. 12, 2018)  A Texas priest faces sexual abuse charges in Montgomery County.   Conroe police say the alleged sex crimes with children happened over several years’ time, from the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s.

The priest was a former employee of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe.  The Conroe Police Department reported that he has been charged with four counts of indecency with a child. The police say they took two separate criminal reports which named Manuel La Rosa-Lopez as a person who victimized children.

Houston-Area Priest

While Montgomery police identified the accused man as an employee of the church, multiple online profiles and church websites identify Mr. La Rosa-Lopez as a priest who still works in the Houston area.  Mr. La Rosa-Lopez turned himself in to the Montgomery County Jail on Sept. 11, 2018.

Cardinal DiNardo relocated Priest after accusations

The Associated Press reported this afternoon that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has been accused by two people of not doing enough to stop Father La Rosa-Lopez from abusing children.

Both people told the AP they met with Cardinal DiNardo, one in August 2018, the other several years ago.  One of them said she was promised that Mr. La Rosa-Lopez would be removed from any contact with children.  She later discovered that the priest remained in active ministry at another parish 70 miles away.

The Archdiocese released the following statement today:

In 2001, a then-16 year old girl and her family notified this Archdiocese that Fr. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez had kissed and touched her inappropriately when he was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart in Conroe. We immediately referred this information to Children’s Protective Services for further investigation.

Father La Rosa-Lopez denied touching the girl inappropriately, and the girl’s family decided not to pursue the matter, relocating out of the country that same year. After an internal review, including presentation of the above allegations to the newly founded Archdiocesan Review Board in 2003, Father La Rosa-Lopez was permitted to return to parish ministry in 2004.

Following her return to the U.S., the Archdiocese, in accordance with our commitment to provide pastoral outreach, provided the young woman with counseling services for a period of time, until she decided to discontinue her therapy.

For the last 17 years, no other allegations of inappropriate conduct involving minors were presented against Father La Rosa-Lopez until 2018. During an interview in Houston on August 10, 2018, a 36 year old man formally presented an allegation to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston stating that Fr. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez sexually abused him from 1998 through 2001, when he was a high school student and Father La Rosa-Lopez was still assigned at Sacred Heart in Conroe.

The Archdiocese immediately reported this allegation to Children’s Protective Services as well. Father La Rosa-Lopez has denied these allegations of sexual abuse. . .  

. . . The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston recognizes it clearly has both a legal and a moral obligation to address any incidence of abuse — sexual or otherwise — to God’s children.

Such behavior simply will not be tolerated. To anyone affected by any form of abuse by anyone who represents the Church, the Archdiocese deeply regrets such a fundamental violation of trust, and commits itself to eliminating such unacceptable actions.

States Rolling Back Statutes to Allow Victims Leeway

Many states are beginning to roll back statutes of limitations to allow victims of sexual abuse more time in which to file a claim.  In many states, people who allege they were victimized as children by clergy or others have only until they turn 30 to file a lawsuit against their perpetrator(s).  Some states allow lawsuits to proceed against child sex abuse predators until the victim reaches 50.  But it is not unusual for a sexually abused person to come forward after age 30 or even after age 50.  Consequently, several states – such as Minnesota and others — have passed legislation allowing victims a new 3-year grace period of time in which to file a lawsuit against their alleged perpetrator(s).  In those states, a person can file a sexual abuse lawsuit at any age, in they do so in the newly granted grace period.

Pennsylvania state is considering such a move to grant long-reticent victims  a reprieve from their private suffering.  The state was rocked by a Catholic church scandal last month after a grand jury determined that more than 300 Catholic priests in one Philly-area parish had sexually abused more than 1,000 children, and quite possibly thousands more.

Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit

Our law firm is investigating priest abuse lawsuits in Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.  If you or a loved one was abused by a Catholic priest or other clergy, contact us for a free, confidential consultation regarding an abuse by clergy lawsuit.

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