Diocese Supends Priest after Investigating Case

The Associated Press, carried in The Eagle
June 7, 2006

DALLAS - Dallas Diocese officials have permanently barred a high-ranking priest from public ministry after verifying claims that he had repeatedly molested an altar boy in the 1980s.

Monsignor Richard E. Johnson, 76, was suspended from St. Patrick Church in suburban Lake Highlands following accusations in late May from the purported victim, a Dallas man now in his 30s.

Diocese officials told his parishioners Sunday they had verified the allegations but did not explain further.

Johnson led the parish for about 20 years and is at least the 15th Dallas priest to be barred from public ministry after accusations of misconduct with minors.

Johnson had previously served as secretary to the bishop, chancellor and vicar general for the diocese and may be the most prominent diocesan priest in Dallas to face such accusations, said Tahira Khan Merritt, an attorney for Johnson's accuser.

Johnson's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.

Merritt said the case is too old to be tried criminally, and she would not comment on whether her client would pursue civil action.

"His goal was to make sure no other children were hurt," she said.

• Information from The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report:


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