Catholic Officials Fight against Victims of Houston Priest even as Cleric Stands for Criminal Trial
Once again, rather than fight a lawsuit on its merits, Catholic officials in Houston are relying on technicalities to escape responsibility for a clergyman who is currently facing criminal charges in Montgomery County. We hope that parishioners and the public will see through this latest attempt to avoid accountability and demand better from their leaders.
Fr. Manuel LaRosa Lopez is facing two criminal counts of indecency with a child. While he is presently only being charged with two counts, there is at least one additional accuser known to the public. Despite this, Catholic officials in Houston are fighting the claims brought in a civil lawsuit by two of the priest’s victims.
Attorneys for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston are not necessarily disputing whether or not these victims – currently filing suit as Jane Doe and John Doe – were abused. Instead, they are arguing that due to the arbitrary time limit imposed by Texas’ archaic statute of limitations, their claims should not be heard.
Just once we would like to see Catholic officials and their attorneys fight lawsuits on the merits, not technicalities. We hope that parishioners in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will pay attention to this news and see that, once again, their leaders are choosing to protect their reputations and finances instead of working honestly to compensate victims of rape at the hands of one of their clerics.
It seems clear to us that Catholic officials have little interest in changing the way that they do business, so we hope that parishioners will speak out against the archdiocese’s continuing failure to protect children, support survivors, and prevent abuse. It is the people in the pews, not those behind the pulpit, who we believe will ultimately create the necessary change. We hope this story will compel those folks to take action on behalf of victims today.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)