Dallas bishop didn't reveal former Worcester
He told young man his molestation allegation
was first despite '98 report of misconduct
By BROOKS EGERTON / The Dallas Morning News
Monday, January 19, 2004
After the nation's Catholic bishops pledged a new openness
this summer in dealing with clergy sexual abuse, the head
of the Fort Worth Diocese wrote to a young man who had recently
accused a priest of molesting him as a boy.
"Your complaint against him is the first that I know
of that involves misconduct with a minor," Bishop Joseph
Delaney wrote in a letter.
Yet The Dallas Morning News reported four years ago that
the priest, who served in the Fort Worth Diocese from 1988
to 1993, had been convicted in Massachusetts of contributing
to the delinquency of a minor and supplying him alcohol. The
Rev. Thomas Teczar also had been suspected of abuse while
training to be a priest in the 1960s and at parish jobs after
ordination, and had been forced into a treatment center in
the 1980s, the paper reported.
At the time of The News' 1998 report, Bishop Delaney acknowledged
that he had known about the delinquency matter and the treatment
center stay when he let Father Teczar transfer to Fort Worth
from the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., in the late 1980s. The
bishop who declined to be interviewed for this story
has said he was not told about the rest of the priest's
history, although church documents show that other bishops
who considered hiring Father Teczar were advised.
A top Worcester diocesan official wrote to one such bishop
in 1986, for example, that the priest had left "a trail
of damaged youngsters" in one Massachusetts town, where
"police threatened to find a reason to arrest him if
A spokesman for Bishop Delaney said Wednesday that the bishop
did not wish to hear questions from The News. In a brief written
statement, the bishop said there had been no previous abuse
complaints stemming from Father Teczar's work in Texas.
Father Teczar did not respond to messages left at his home
in Massachusetts, where he remains a priest but is barred
from public ministry. As The News reported in 1998, he has
testified in a pending Massachusetts lawsuit against him that
he was fired from an orphanage in the mid-1960s after an incident
with a young boy he was bathing.
A national victims' group leader said that the statement
in Bishop Delaney's recent letter is just one example of church
leaders continuing to conceal the extent of clergy abuse and
to violate promises made at their historic Dallas meeting
Secrecy still 'the norm'
"I think that secrecy is still very much the norm,"
said David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests. Telling someone that he is the lone accuser,
he added, "is one of the most nefarious types of responses."
"It's designed to minimize the chance that someone will
seek legal action," he said. "It also keeps the
victim trapped in shame and self-blame."
The man with whom Bishop Delaney has corresponded recently
is the first to publicly accuse Father Teczar of abuse in
Texas. Bishop Delaney, as required under the bishops' new
national policy, referred the accusation to government authorities.
Bill Dowell, a prosecutor in Eastland County, at the southwestern
edge of the 28-county Fort Worth Diocese, said he has asked
the Texas Rangers to investigate. The Rangers said they plan
to do so.
In Texas, Father Teczar worked first in Tarrant County and
later as pastor of four rural parishes in or near Eastland
County. He hurriedly returned to Massachusetts in 1993 after
refusing to answer questions from a grand jury about two associates
who were accused of molestation and have since been imprisoned.
Mr. Dowell told The News four years ago that he also suspected
Father Teczar of abuse but knew of no victims, as he did with
the associates. Father Teczar urged one of those men to destroy
Polaroid snapshots of nude children, according to witness
Wade Driskill, the Texan who recently accused Father Teczar,
said the priest took nude pictures of him, too.
He said he was abused four times in the early 1990s, when
he was 15 years old and went to the priest's home, next door
to St. Rita Catholic Church in the town of Ranger, for spiritual
counsel. Father Teczar's associates, he said, did not abuse
The priest, Mr. Driskill recalled, invited him over and said
he did "a lot of counseling with troubled kids."
And "even on the first visit, he started talking about
After the first incident, he said, Father Teczar warned him
not to let anyone know what happened. "He told me that
they would believe him and they wouldn't believe me,"
Mr. Driskill said.
Mr. Driskill, 26, grew up in Ranger and has been convicted
of theft or burglary several times since he was a teenager.
He is currently serving a state jail sentence for theft.
Both he and his mother said he began stealing about the time
of the alleged abuse, although his mother said she learned
only recently of her son's connection to Father Teczar. The
priest patronized their service station, where the young Mr.
Driskill sometimes worked alone; the family is not Catholic.
Mr. Driskill said he recently felt able to talk about the
matter for the first time after going to a Catholic service
behind bars. He said he takes responsibility for his crimes
and does not blame them on Father Teczar but wants to better
understand himself and quit squandering his life.
Mr. Driskill has asked the Fort Worth Diocese to pay for
counseling, and Bishop Delaney agreed in a July 11 letter.
Speaking of Father Teczar in that letter, the bishop wrote:
"I am very distressed at his misconduct in abusing you."
The bishop also wrote that "Thomas Teczar is no longer
a priest." But Ray Delisle, spokesman for the Diocese
of Worcester, said that Father Teczar remains a priest, though
he has been barred from public ministry since leaving Texas.
Mr. Delisle declined to comment on Bishop Delaney's past
assertions that the Worcester Diocese did not tell him about
all of Father Teczar's problems. The spokesman said he was
not privy to communications between bishops and noted that
the Worcester diocesan officials who dealt with Bishop Delaney
have since died.
In an Aug. 5 letter to Mr. Driskill, Bishop Delaney responded
to questions about why Father Teczar left Ranger. He wrote
that he knew little but thought the priest "was accused
of not having reported the misconduct of another person."
In commenting on The News' report in 1998, Bishop Delaney
said that Father Teczar came to see him in 1993, accompanied
by two attorneys, and "explained that he was being accused
of not having reported the sexual abuse of a child to the
authorities of Eastland County. ... His attorneys assured
me they were in touch with the authorities there, who were
willing to drop the investigation if Father Teczar left the
No such deal existed, Eastland County officials have said.
Ronnie White, who was sheriff at the time, has said that he
wanted to arrest Father Teczar for not reporting abuse
and that the diocese wouldn't discuss the priest's personnel
history or help locate him.
A day before speaking about the alleged deal, Bishop Delaney
had given The News a different account. Father Teczar, he
said, went back to Massachusetts because "he decided
he didn't want to be a priest in Texas anymore." Bishop
Delaney also said in 1998 that he erred in accepting Father
Teczar from the Worcester Diocese and no longer would accept
transferring priests with similar backgrounds.
Father Teczar initially came to Texas with the Worcester
bishop's blessing. But when parents of a Massachusetts boy
whom Father Teczar had given alcohol learned of the transfer
and protested, the Worcester bishop warned Bishop Delaney
in writing that the priest no longer had his approval to serve.
Bishop Delaney kept Father Teczar on duty and vouched for
him when the parents pressed a criminal complaint, alleging
that the priest had tried to seduce their son.
Father Teczar was fined $375 on the delinquency and alcohol
charges in 1991 after Bishop Delaney said, in a letter to
a Massachusetts court, that "he is not working with young
people in his present assignment, and I intend that this will
be the continuing arrangement."
Father Teczar, however, was working as a pastor in parishes
with children at the time, and he continued to do so.