Letter from Worcester bishop
implored Texas diocese to take accused priest
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
April 21, 2003
Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger, who has been accused
of sexual abuse by a Shrewsbury man, asked the Fort Worth,
Texas, diocese in 1988 to take a priest from the Worcester
diocese who had been similarly accused.
Correspondence attached to a sexual abuse lawsuit against
Rev. Thomas Teczar shows that Bishop Rueger wrote to the bishop
of Fort Worth, "Our diocesan attorney has advised that
Father Teczar be incardinated immediately in the diocese of
Fort Worth. Pursuant to this advice, the bishop would be anxious
for us to undertake this process." The lawyer he referred
to in the Sept. 13, 1988, letter was the late James Reardon
On Oct. 8 of that year, Fort Worth Bishop Joseph P. Delaney
wrote to Worcester Bishop Timothy J. Harrington, "I understand
very well Mr. Reardon's point of view; the sooner the Diocese
of Worcester can rid itself of Father Teczar the better."
Two years earlier, Monsignor Raymond J. Page, vicar general
of the Worcester diocese, wrote to Bishop Reilly, then in
charge of the diocese serving Norwich, Conn., "Father
Teczar is a priest of this diocese. Bishop Harrington has
granted him a leave of absence with the suggestion that he
seek a benevolent bishop.
"Tom's difficulties came to a head two years ago when
a 16-year-old boy accused Tom of soliciting him," the
Monsignor Page also wrote Bishop Reilly that "Bishop
Harrington says there has long been a cloud of suspicion over
Tom. Bishop Harrington knows a trail of damaged youngsters
he left in one town. The police there were far from pleased.
In that town, the police threatened to find a reason to arrest
him if he returned there." Bishop Reilly declined to
take on Rev. Teczar, and the Worcester diocese began to focus
on Fort Worth.
Rev. Teczar had been a concern to the Worcester diocese as
far back as 1967, when the dean of Catholic University of
America asked Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan about the priest's
fitness to become a seminarian.
Bishop Flanagan warned of Rev. Teczar's "predilection
for intimate and rather exclusive companionship with young
Last week, Rev. Teczar was named in a Texas lawsuit in which
a 27-year-old man accused him of sexual abuse dating back
to the early 1990s.
Tahira Khan Merritt, a Dallas lawyer who filed the case in
Tarrant County District Court, said the "$24 million
question" is why Bishop Delaney of the Fort Worth diocese
took Rev. Teczar into the diocese in 1988 when he had been
clearly warned by Worcester diocesan officials of potential
According to the lawsuit, Bishop Delaney signed an agreement
absolving Bishop Harrington of responsibility for Rev. Teczar's
conduct while in Texas.
A Worcester Superior Court civil jury in October found that
Rev. Teczar was responsible for sexual abuse of David A. Lewcon
of Webster when he was assigned to St. Mary's Parish, Uxbridge,
in 1971. The jury declined to award monetary damages.
"Harrington allowed Tom Teczar to exist," Mr. Lewcon
said in an interview prior to the trial.
Bishop Rueger is facing a lawsuit accusing him of sexually
abusing Sime Braio of Shrewsbury in the early 1960s. While,
Bishop Reilly has placed seven priests accused of sexual abuse
on leave since early last year, Bishop Rueger has been allowed
to continue working.
In his 1988 letter to Bishop Delaney, Bishop Rueger wrote,
"If I can be of any further help in furnishing to you
any necessary documents, please let me know. Let us pray that
this will have a successful outcome."
Bishop Delaney wrote Bishop Harrington that Rev. Teczar could
not be immediately incardinated because of a policy in the
Fort Worth diocese that a priest spend three years there "ad
experimentum" before being considered for incardination.
"I am writing directly to you since you and I discussed
the matter by telephone last June as well as at the Collegeville
meeting," Bishop Delaney wrote.
The letter went on, "Bishop Rueger sent me a copy of
the letter you received from Mr. James Reardon, the diocesan
attorney, with his opinion that Father Teczar should be excardinated
from the Diocese of Worcester immediately. While respecting
Mr. Reardon's expertise in civil law, I want to raise with
you other questions about this matter involving both justice
Bishop Delaney said he believed Rev. Teczar would perform
well for the Fort Worth diocese.
"Let me be clear about the three-year wait," he
wrote. "It is not due to concern about Tom's past problem.
If I had serious concern in that regard I would not be dealing
with the matter at all! ... In Tom's case there is the past
problem that you and he have fully shared with me. But that
is not the reason for the wait. If I had any fear that the
problem would ever arise again I could not and would not accept
him at all for any length of time.
"You told me both times we talked that you believe Tom
can do effective priestly work and that you do not want to
see him laicized. I can offer him that chance ... I am willing
to provide the Diocese of Worcester with a document absolving
you of any responsibility for Father Teczar's conduct during
Rev. Teczar's name came up in connection with a $42,500 settlement
in a case where Rev. Thomas A. Kane, who ran the former House
of Affirmation in Whitinsville, was accused of sexually abusing
Mark Barry of Uxbridge beginning at age 9. The settlement
agreement, signed by Bishop Reilly, included the names of
three priests who had not previously been connected to the
lawsuit - Rev. Teczar, Rev. Robert Shauris and Monsignor Brendan
Houston lawyer Daniel Shea, who represents Mr. Braio in the
Rueger lawsuit, has said Mr. Barry was passed around a ring
of priests for sex.
The Worcester diocese has denied that any such priest sex
ring existed, and Bishop Reilly has said he signed the agreement
"in good faith as prepared and approved by the legal
counsels representing all the parties and agreed upon by Mr.
Barry at the time."
In Fort Worth, Rev. Teczar was a priest at four different
parishes. His career there ended in 1993 after he quickly
left the state during a criminal investigation into child
molestation in Eastland County, Texas.
Not long after, Rev. Teczar was back in Massachusetts and
living in Dudley.
Richard Nangle can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.