KXAN Uncovers Child Sex Abuse Charges Against 46 Catholic Clergy Members, recognizes Howry Breen & Herman, LLP has pursued abuse lawsuit on behalf of six victims.
Over one year ago, in 2019, all Roman Catholic dioceses in Texas released their lists of clergy members “credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.” At that time, the tally of alleged perpetrators, who were mostly priests, included 286 names. On January 31, 2020, KXAN released nearly 50 new names, bringing the total number of accused clergy members up to 332.
How the Names Were Uncovered
Journalists at KXAN cross-checked names of clergy on their master list using Catholic directories and non-Diocese lists. They made sure to explore the Jesuits, a religious order of the Catholic Church, and the Legionaries of Christ, a congregation of Catholic priests, along with several other congregations and societies. Many of the accused clergy members had already passed away, but KXAN investigators made efforts to track down those who were still living.
One priest was at a retirement facility for priests in Central Texas. Another, who was linked to the abuse of a 10-year-old girl during confession, was not found – and the diocese in Victoria would not disclose his location. Investigators also talked to the accusers of several priests, members of the church demanding more transparency, and District Attorney offices across the state.
Since the original list of names was published in January 2019, 10 accusers have filed suit against dioceses across Texas. Howry Breen represented six victims in a lawsuit against a priest and the Diocese of Austin.
Dioceses across Texas refused to comment on the ongoing litigation.
Austin Diocese Emphasizes Accountability
In an off-camera meeting with KXAN investigators, the Austin Diocese explained why some names were left off their list, emphasizing that the clergy members in question were already listed by their specific brotherhoods. The Diocese wanted to maintain accuracy in the overall number of accused priests and prevent duplicate names.
Austin’s Bishop stated last year that the city’s diocese would:
“’do everything possible to be able to maintain that trust’ if more allegations were brought forward”
The Austin Diocese has not reported any new claims of child sex abuse and is not required to report allegations made by adults, even if those adults were abused as children. Instead, the Diocese offers counseling to these individuals and encourages them to report their abuse or assault to law enforcement. The Diocese itself may report the incident to law enforcement if the clergy member still works around children.
Encouraging Survivors to Come Forward
If you’ve been sexually abused by a priest, bishop, or another Texas clergy member, our team at Howry Breen & Herman urges you to come forward. We have successfully represented adult and child victims of sexual assault and abuse against churches, dioceses, bishops, priests, schools and youth organizations in the state of Texas.
Together, we can not only pursue compensation but also help prevent future instances of abuse.