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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

For immediate release: Thursday, April 8, 2010

New sex abuse lawsuit targets Rocksprings Parish, Predator cleric

Archdiocese allowed abuser to work in parish, molest victim for more than a year

Priest threatened victim with a gun, forced him to drink alcohol, perform sex

Clergy abuse victims say abuse is not a "thing of the past"

They urge anyone with information to report to law enforcement

A group of clergy sex abuse victims announced a new civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of San Antonio alleging that the church leaders could have stop a predator priest from molesting a young teen in 2008.

The lawsuit, which was filed April 8, 2010 in Bexar County, TX District Court, alleges that Fr. John M. Fiala befriended a young teen at Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in Rocksprings in 2007. According to court documents, the priest lavished gifts on the boy and sexually abused him under the pretense of giving him Catechism classes. Finally, in 2008, Fiala forced alcohol on the boy and threatened him with a gun in order to sexually abuse him.

The priest also gave the victim a car, but withheld the keys in order to force the boy into sex. Authorities learned of the abuse after the victim attempted suicide.

The boy and his family are participating in an ongoing criminal investigation which has expanded to include other areas where Fiala was assigned, including Beeville, Robbstown, Harper, Camp Wood and Leakey, and San Antonio.

“We applaud the brave young man who finally found the strength to report these horrific crimes and cooperated with law enforcement so that a predator could be brought to justice,” said David Clohessy, national director SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

This case is a prime example of how clergy sex abuse is not a "crime of the past," he said.

"Bishops are so quick to say that they have made changes," said Clohessy. "And the ones to pay the price are the young victims."

Fiala had a questionable assignment history as a priest, including numerous transfers and periods of no assignment at all. Both are "red flags" for potential abusers, Clohessy said.

The group is also encouraging anyone with information about Fiala to report to law enforcement, not the church. "We believe there may be other victims, suffering in shame and silence," Clohessy said. "We also believe that there may be church employees and volunteers with valuable information about abuse. We encourage anyone with information to come forward so that what happened to Fiala's victim never happens to another child."

Fiala is currently believed to have returned to Nebraska, perhaps to the Omaha area where he was ordained in 1984.

The victim is represented by attorneys Tahira Khan Merritt of Dallas (214) 503-7300 and Tom Rhodes of San Antonio (210) 225-5251.

Contact: Tom Rhodes or Laura Pazin-Porter, Tom Rhodes Law Firm, P.C., 126 Villita St., San Antonio, Texas 78205. 210-225-5251

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests