OK-- Witness is validated by ex-priest’s arrest for murder
For immediate release: Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016
An Oklahoma man is a key witness in the case of an ex-priest who has just been arrested for murdering a Texas girl 56 years ago. We are deeply grateful that John Feit has finally been charged. But we’re especially grateful for the role Dale Tacheny of Oklahoma City has played in this case.
Tacheny has told prosecutors that Feit admitted to him that he killed Irene Garza. That move – disclosing this information to law enforcement – took considerable courage because, at the time, both men were priests. It’s exceedingly rare
We applaud Tacheny’s courage and compassion, then and now.
( Tragically, however, a Catholic politician attacked Tacheny’s credibility and refused to pursue Feit.
Feit worked lives in Arizona, lives in New Mexico and was convicted of assaulting another young woman in Texas. Now, Catholic officials in all three states have a moral and civic duty to prod other witnesses to step forward.
In the 1960s, Feit worked at the New Mexico-based Servants of the Paraclete, a Catholic facility where predator priests were housed and purportedly “treated.” That was “after his criminal problems in South Texas prompted his bosses to remove him from parish work” and he “had been convicted in a young woman's sexual assault,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
We fear he may have hurt young women in New Mexico and Arizona too.
We hope that this arrest brings some hope to Irene Garza's brave and devoted family. We applaud them for their persistence and patience. And we hope that anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered clergy crimes or misdeeds by Feit – or cover ups by his church supervisors will call police, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing, like Tacheny has done.
We also hope that Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted and Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores will use personal appeals, parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements to beg others with information or suspicions about Feit to call law enforcement immediately. Now is no time for Catholic officials to act powerless or for citizens to be complacent. Every shred of evidence – no matter how small, old or seemingly insignificant – should be withheld from police and prosecutors.
And we hope Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley will publicly praise Tacheny and urge anyone in Oklahoma with information or suspicions about crimes by clerics to call police and prosecutors, no matter how long ago the wrongdoing may have happened.
Three months ago, we wrote to Hildalgo County prosecutor Ricardo Rodriguez about this case. We are certain, however, that the diligence of the Garza family that made the difference here. Again, we are grateful to them for the courage and compassion they have shown throughout this ordeal.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)