Catholic Priest Pleads No Contest in Assault Case

Dallas Morning News
March 29, 2011

A longtime Catholic priest pleaded no contest Tuesday to a misdemeanor assault charge in Rowlett Municipal Court.

The Rev. Bob Crisp had been a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rowlett for a decade before being placed on leave last year after allegations that he inappropriately touched several female parishioners.

Crisp, 62, received six months of deferred adjudication and was fined $650. He could not be reached Tuesday.

The plea stems from an incident in the summer of 2009. Youth minister Teresa Brown said Crisp stopped to chat with her and her daughter outside the church after a volunteer cleanup day. Brown said she stepped away to make sure the church door was locked. When she turned around, Crisp had slipped off his shoe and was rubbing his bare foot up and down her daughter's leg and complimenting her pedicure and her flip-flops.

Brown said her 14-year-old daughter froze.

"A priest commands a certain amount of respect, but that's clearly over the line," Brown said. "She didn't know what to do."

Brown said she pulled her daughter away and immediately reported the incident to the church.

Barbara Eretto, who works at Sacred Heart, said she forwarded about 10 complaints from parishioners to the Catholic Diocese of Dallas over several months.

Women told the diocese that Crisp made them feel uncomfortable, gave them lengthy hugs and rubbed his feet against their legs. Eretto said Crisp also had anger management issues that drove some people away.

After the Rowlett investigation became public last year, several other women came forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior that dated back decades to other parishes.

The diocese placed Crisp on leave last April at his request.

"He remains on leave and we have no plans to reassign him" to another church, diocesean spokeswoman Annette Gonzales Taylor said Tuesday.

She said the diocese wasn't aware of any other criminal charges against Crisp.

Brown said the plea deal was appropriate, given what happened to her daughter. But other women haven't gotten any justice, she said.

"The things that happened in the past, people are still suffering because of it," she said.

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