Vatican, Archdiocese Of Galveston-Houston Sued Over Abuse Accusations

Alan Scaia
February 18, 2020 - 8:00 am
Vatican City, Italy

Credit: J.Burkett Photo

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A lawyer has filed a civil lawsuit against the Vatican and the Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston over accusations of sexual abuse.

The priest, Manuel La-Rosa Lopez​, is already awaiting criminal trial over accusations he abused a boy and girl in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The two are identified only as "John Doe" and "Jane Doe" in the civil lawsuit. Their lawyer, Tahira Khan Merritt, is asking for $20 million in damages.

"The criminal conduct of Lopez and priests like him was buried in Archdiocesan Secret Archives, therein unavailable to laity and law alike," Merritt wrote in a statement.

The lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston of keeping Lopez in ministry despite "multiple reports or Lopez' sexual misconduct."

"Archdiocesan officials failed and refused to report his crimes to law enforcement but instead sent the priest for psychological treatment on at least two occasions and returned him to ministry," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also names the Holy See as a defendant. The suit says the Vatican granted Lopez the power and authority he would need to "ingratiate" himself to the parish parents.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has responded with a statement:

"The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston just learned of the lawsuit late this afternoon from the media. We take these allegations very seriously and continue to pray for all victims of sexual abuse. We are unable to comment any further at this time.​"

Merritt also filed a civil lawsuit against the Diocese of Dallas last month in connection with the arrest of a former priest in Missouri.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Richard Thomas Brown, 78, admitted to abusing multiple children at four parishes in North Texas. Brown was removed from service in 1993 and stripped of his role as a priest in 2002.