Texas priest arrested for alleged child sex abuse

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A priest of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston was arrested Tuesday in connection with allegations that he sexually abused at least two children decades ago.

Police in Conroe, Texas have reported that the priest has been charged with four counts of indecency to children. While stationed at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe, Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was accused in 2001 of kissing and  inappropriately touching a 16 year-old girl.

The priest was permitted to return to ministry after the allegation was reviewed by the Texas authorities and the archdiocesan review board in 2003, which allowed the priest to return to ministry in 2004. Reportedly, the women moved back in 2010 and saw that the priest had been transferred to St. John Fisher parish in Richmond, Texas.

After contacting the archdiocese, the woman was referred to counseling services and briefly met with Father La Rosa-Lopez, who offered his apologies, according to Click 2 Houston.  

A 36 year-old man presented a case of sexual abuse Aug. 10. The man said he had been sexually abused from 1998-200, also at Sacred Heart parish.

In a Sept. 12 statement, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said it immediately presented this case to Children’s Protective Services. The archdiocese also said that the priest has denied these allegations.

“We take these matters very seriously, which is why we reported the information we received from both individuals to CPS – and removed Father La Rosa-Lopez from ministry.”

An arrest warrant was issued for the priest by the district attorney of Montgomery County Sept. 11. Father La Rosa-Lopez turned himself in to the police that evening.

The archdiocese has not commented on the timing of Father La Rosa-Lopez’s removal from the parish.

However, archdiocese upheld its strong commitment to the protection of children and expressed its apologies to any victims who have been injured by sexual abuse.

“The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston recognizes it clearly has both a legal and a moral obligation to address any incidence of abuse – sexual or otherwise – to God’s children. Such behavior simply will not be tolerated.”

“To anyone affected by any form of abuse by anyone who represents the Church, the Archdiocese deeply regrets such a fundamental violation of trust, and commits itself to eliminating such unacceptable actions.”

The Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, is president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Together with several other USCCB officials, Cardinal DiNardo is meeting with Pope Francis Sept. 13 to discuss the clerical sexual abuse crisis that has roiled the Church in the US for several months.

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