Prosecutors believe Houston Priest may have more victims, SNAP responds
For immediate release, October 2 2018
A Houston-area priest was recently arrested for sexual abusing a child. Reports from the AP and other news outlets show that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston had been specifically warned about Fr. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez. Unfortunately, those warnings went unheeded.
According to reports, when they were first contacted about Fr. LaRosa-Lopez by one of LaRosa’s victims, the church told her that he would be removed from active ministry. Instead, they moved him to another parish, 70 miles away. Despite knowing about credible allegations of abuse against him, no parishioners, staff, or others were warned.
Ten months ago, the church was contacted again about Fr. LaRosa-Lopez, this time by a different victim. Archbishop DiNardo met with the victim personally but only removed Fr. LaRosa-Lopez a week before his arrest. When he finally was removed from ministry, rather than be upfront about the reasons, parishioners were told that their priest was away on a retreat. Today, prosecutors are publicly saying that there may be more victims and they are in the process of researching new information.
Given this reckless attitude towards allegations of abuse, we strongly believe that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston should actively reach out to the parishes where Fr. LaRosa-Lopez previously worked, informing parishioners of the allegations and encouraging others who may have been abused to come forward and speak to the police. These warnings should have been made previously. The least the Archdiocese can do is make them today.
Cases like this underscore just how critical it is that local prosecuting attorneys work with their state Attorney General in order to launch independent investigations or convene grand juries in order to find other cases where credible abuse allegations were made and instead priests were protected and shuffled around. It is clear that institutions cannot police themselves and so we call on law enforcement to do it for them. We hope that Attorney General Paxton will not only look into the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, but also set up a hotline for victims of abuse, helping others who may have been abused in the past to come forward 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)