Indemnification Agreement Absolves MA Diocese
from Liability in Texas Case
Dioceses settle case for $1.4M
Saturday, March 26, 2005
By Kathleen A. Shaw TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
The Catholic Dioceses of Worcester and Forth Worth, Texas, late
Thursday night settled one of the pending lawsuits against the dioceses,
two bishops and the Rev. Thomas H. Teczar for $1.4 million, according
to the lawyers representing the alleged victims.
The settlement came in the case of a man from Ranger, Texas, identified
only as John Doe I. He is represented by Daniel J. Shea of Houston.
No settlement was reached in the case of John Doe II, who is represented
by Tahira Khan Merritt and Sylvia Demarest of Dallas. Ms. Khan Merritt
said yesterday that unless some settlement is reached in the case,
it will go to trial in July.
Im very happy for Dan that he was able to bring in
that settlement for his client, Ms. Khan Merritt said. In
my case, I want this to go to a jury because there is a lot of information
about the conspiracy between the two dioceses that needs to come
out. I want the truth to come out.
Ms. Khan Merritt said the case of John Doe II involves repressed
memories of the alleged abuse, while John Doe I had never suppressed
or repressed his memories of the alleged abuse.
Mr. Shea, who represented several people in the Worcester area
in their cases against the Worcester Diocese, said he was able to
get a larger settlement in Texas because that state does not have
a charitable immunity cap of $20,000 as Massachusetts does. The
Worcester Diocese has been settling its recent clergy sexual abuse
suits for less than the cap.
Mr. Shea and Ms. Khan Merritt said that none of the $1.4 million
is coming from the Worcester Diocese. They were surprised to learn
late Thursday night that the Worcester Diocese had a previously
unknown indemnification agreement with Fort Worth that absolved
Worcester from paying any money if Rev. Teczar was accused of sexually
abusing minors in Texas.
James Gavin Reardon Jr., lawyer for the diocese, who attended the
mediation session that resulted in the settlement, was not available
yesterday for comment. Rev. Teczar also did not return a call seeking
The settlement came from a mediation session held all day Thursday
in Los Colinas, Texas, which is near Dallas. Diocesan offices were
also closed because of the Easter Triduum, and a call for comment
was not answered.
We were shocked, Ms. Khan Merritt said yesterday of
the agreement that indemnifies the Worcester Diocese. The agreement
was never produced during the normal discovery process in the litigation,
she said. She has asked lawyers for the two dioceses to produce
the document. The lawyers were told about the document at the mediation,
Mr. Shea, who said he was pleased to get a sizeable settlement
for John Doe I, said existence of the indemnification agreement
can only help Ms. Khan Merritt in her remaining cases involving
John Doe II because it shows that the Worcester Diocese knew
beforehand that Father Teczar would abuse minors when he got to
The two men filed civil lawsuits in the Tarrant County District
Court in Fort Worth alleging they were sexually abused by Rev. Teczar
after he left the Worcester Diocese in 1988 and assigned to a parish
in Ranger, part of the Fort Worth Diocese.
Although the lawyers for the two men did not know of the indemnification
agreement, there seemed to be some suggestion of removing liability
from Worcester in documents presented as evidence in the lawsuit.
Ms. Khan Merritt, in her motion opposing dismissal of the lawsuit,
said the two dioceses were fully aware of Rev. Teczars
sexual attraction to adolescents and Bishop Joseph P. Delaney
had discussed this with Rev. Teczar. Two days later, on June
15, 1988, Delaney spoke with Bishop Harrington, who agreed to allow
Teczar to work in the Fort Worth Diocese if Delaney would assume
all legal responsibility in writing for Teczar. Another
legal document also states that Bishop Harrington had been told
by his legal advisers not to accept responsibility for Rev. Teczar.
In her court document, Ms. Khan Merritt states that John Doe I,
then 14, was working at his parents gas station in Ranger
in late 1989 when he first met Rev. Teczar. The church had a charge
account with the gas station and Rev. Teczar brought his Mercedes-Benz
and Ford Explorer vehicles there for service. This information was
provided by McWilliam Bixler, who worked at the rectory.
John Doe I said in a deposition that, in the spring of 1999, he
was invited by Rev. Teczar to come to the rectory under the pretext
that he would receive counseling. The conversation soon turned to
sexual matters, he said.
John Doe I said that he was sexually abused in the rectory on at
least five occasions in 1991 and 1992. The abuse included fondling
and oral and anal sex, he testified. Rev. Teczar also took photos
of him in his underwear with his head cropped out of the picture,
he said. He saw similar photos of other boys posed in the rectory.
His affidavit said that Teczar threatened and warned him not to
tell anyone about the sexual activities, and that no one would believe
him against the word of a priest.
After the abuse, John Doe I ran away from home and began getting
into legal difficulties, Ms. Khan Merritt said.
The lawsuit named the dioceses, Bishop Joseph P. Delaney of Fort
Worth, retired Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger of Worcester and
Reaction from alleged victims and advocates in Central Massachusetts
David A. Lewcon of Uxbridge, who alleges that he was sexually abused
by Rev. Teczar at St. Mary Parish, Uxbridge, said, Since the
Worcester Diocese traditionally has paid out the lowest settlements
in the country, I would imagine that all the local victims are living
vicariously through John Doe I.
Mr. Lewcon said money does not provide healing. This settlement
is validation to the victim that his abuse had compromised his life.
George Skip Shea of Uxbridge, who settled a civil lawsuit
here under the charitable immunity cap after alleging he was abused
by Rev. Teczar, said, It is heartening to see the legal system
work in Texas in regards to Father Teczar. Bringing the truth into
the light and accepting accountability is a major step in healing.
It is my hope that the light of truth will one day shine
as brightly in Worcester as it did in Fort Worth, added Mr.
Shea, who is not related to the Houston lawyer. He said he hopes
the recent change in leadership, with the arrival of Bishop Robert
J. McManus, will help.
Daniel E. Dick of Worcester, victim support coordinator for the
Worcester area Voice of the Faithful chapter, said the settlement
seems to indicate that Worcester and Fort Worth dioceses acted
together to remove Rev. Teczar from Worcester and send him
Mr. Dick said anyone who reads area newspapers knows that
Rev. Teczar has a long record of being a pedophile.
Rev. Teczar, who lost his credentials to function as a priest in
the Worcester Diocese in 1986, lives in Dudley. He said in a previous
interview that he never met John Doe II and only knew John Doe I
from the gas station in Ranger. He denied that he sexually abused
Copyright 2005 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.