A sex abuse scandal surrounding a Catholic priest in Conroe, Texas has already seen the accused charged with sexually abusing children while working at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez has already been charged with four counts of indecency with a child and has turned himself in to authorities to serve his sentence starting Tuesday at Montgomery County Jail.
These may not be the only charges against the prest, however, La Rosa-Lopez could be looking at facing several more charges stemming from further victims coming forward after seeing the news coverage regarding sexual abuse at the hands of priests. One of the children La Rosa-Lopez raped said he began touching him and making intimate gestures in 1999 when he was still under 17-years-old. That victim says on one occasion, La Rosa-Lopez showed him into his living space at the church and showed him photos of naked men from his seminary.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The victims say it’s simple: Fiorenza knew. Cardinal DiNardo knew. They knew Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was accused of abusing kids. Someone in the church knew since 2001. And yet, nobody told the police until two weeks ago. Our <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/abc13?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#abc13</a> story: <a href="https://t.co/ybZAS5FKr3">https://t.co/ybZAS5FKr3</a> <a href="https://t.co/qdlp87nQDA">pic.twitter.com/qdlp87nQDA</a></p>— Miya Shay (@ABC13Miya) <a href="https://twitter.com/ABC13Miya/status/1040033185424465920?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 13, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Next, La Rosa-Lopez fondled the victim and wouldn't let him leave the room until a relative arrived to pick him up. Police say the victim reported the assault to the church leaders who put him in touch with Sister Maureen O'Connell. O'Connell was a Galveston/Houston Archdiocese Victims Assistance Coordinator who referred him to Cardinal Daniel DiNardo. The victim says he was offered psychological counseling services and was told reports of the assault had been filed with Conroe police and Child Protective Services.
Related coverage: <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/37387-Hotline-Opens-For-Sexual-Abuse-Within-Catholic-Church-Rings-Nonstop-For-Weeks">Hotline Opens For Sexual Abuse Within Catholic Church, Rings Nonstop For Weeks</a>
Court documents reveal a police investigator who searched for the records could find no trace of their existence. Another victim told police that La Rosa-Lopez forced himself on her and began groping and kissing her in 2000. She told police that La Rosa-Lopez told her he had to wait until she was 16 to have sex with her. Another incident took place at the Passion of Christ play where La Rosa-Lopez reached under the victim's clothes and fondled her while they were in the church kitchen by themselves.
The victim also told police she believed she was in a romantic relationship with La Rosa-Lopez and even wrote about it in her diary under a code name but that didn't stop her father from discovering it. Once he found it, he determined who the man she was writing about was and her father confronted La Rosa-Lopez. The woman says it was her father who reported the accusations to the church which promised a serious response and a thorough investigation.
Soon after he reported his daughter's sexual abuse to religious leaders, including then-Bishop Joseph Fiorenza. But despite informing them of La Rosa-Lopez's sexual misconduct, the church leaders transferred him from Sacred Heart. The church also threatened her father never to speak of the incident again.
Related coverage: <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/33916-300-Pedophile-Priests-Named-in-Grand-Jury-Report-as-Catholic-PedoGate-Scandal-Explodes">300 Pedophile Priests Named in Grand Jury Report as Catholic PedoGate Scandal Explodes</a>
<img src="https://media.8ch.net/file_store/3fa160e8593021e59b4bef198216ac230b248ebfa011862fe75d4a7e819c41f4.jpg" style="max-height:640px;max-width:360px;">
<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Catholic World Report</span>
La Rosa-Lopez it seems has a long history of violating children. In 2010, court documents reveal that La Rosa-Lopez had been promoted to a church in Richmond, Texas. After learning of his transfer, the victim followed up with the Catholic church and during an interview with Cardinal DiNardo and Sister Maureen O'Connell, she was told that La Rosa-Lopez had been sent to a mental institution.
They also assured her that La Rosa-Lopez had been placed in an administration position without contact with children or teens. Now, the victim has learned that La Rosa-Lopez maintains a status as the priest of St. John the Fisher Church in Richmond and has decided to file a police report. The Galveston/Houston Archdiocese issued a statement saying:
<i>"In 2001, a then-16-year-old girl and her family notified this Archdiocese that Fr. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez had kissed and touched her inappropriately when he was assigned as Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart in Conroe. We immediately referred this information to Children's Protective Services for further investigation. Father La Rosa-Lopez denied touching the girl inappropriately, and the girl's family decided not to pursue the matter, relocating out of the country that same year. After an internal review, including presentation of the above allegations to the newly founded Archdiocesan Review Board in 2003, Father La Rosa-Lopez was permitted to return to parish ministry in 2004.</i>
<i>Following her return to the U.S., the Archdiocese, in accordance with our commitment to provide pastoral outreach, provided the young woman with counseling services for a period of time, until she decided to discontinue her therapy.</i>
<i>For the last 17 years, no other allegations of inappropriate conduct involving minors were presented against Father La Rosa-Lopez until 2018.</i>
<i>During an interview in Houston on August 10, 2018, a 36 year old man formally presented an allegation to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston stating that Fr. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez sexually abused him from 1998 through 2001, when he was a high school student and Father La Rosa-Lopez was still assigned at Sacred Heart in Conroe. The Archdiocese immediately reported this allegation to Children's Protective Services as well. Father La Rosa-Lopez has denied these allegations of sexual abuse.</i>
Related coverage: <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/29329-Catholic-Priest-Slaps-A-Baby-Because-He-Won-t-Stop-Crying-Video">Catholic Priest Slaps A Baby Because He Won't Stop Crying (Video)</a>
(the statement continues)
<i>Yesterday, the district attorney of Montgomery County issued an arrest warrant for Father La Rosa-Lopez, which we understand is the result of the above reports. Father La Rosa-Lopez voluntarily turned himself into the Conroe Police Department last evening.</i>
<i>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. We are pledged to cooperate with the civil authorities in their investigation.<i/>
<i>The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston recognize 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.</i>
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Source: https://abc13.com/conroe-priest-accused-of-child-sex-abuse-leaves-jail-on-bond/4222697/ https://www.click2houston.com/news/new-information-may-lead-to-more-sexual-abuse-cases-against-local-priest