|Church Officials Sat on Abuse Allegations
By Kevin Quinn
January 14, 2008
HOUSTON (KTRK) — There are allegations of abuse by a priest in the Galveston-Houston archdiocese. The church knew about it since November. The question is — why did it wait until Friday to tell authorities?
Back in November, the archdiocese re-assigned a priest for allegedly sexually abusing a youngster between 1989 and 1993. The Houston police sex crimes unit found out about it on Friday and Eyewitness News was told about it Sunday in a news conference.
The archdiocese admits that in mid-November it knew about the allegations of sexual assault of a child. But the church didn't tell the district attorney's office or the Houston Police Department until just last Friday.
Harris County Assistant District Attorney Denise Oncken said, "Obviously, any time there's a lag time, it's concerning."
Oncken, chief of the Harris County District Attorney's juvenile sex crimes, says the sooner law enforcement receives allegations, the sooner it can begin work on independently substantiating them or even finding other potential victims.
She said, "The sooner you can get started on an investigation, the better."
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said Sunday that a church review board investigated the claims.
"They thought there was credible evidence," he reported.
Today the archdiocese refused to answer our questions about this on camera. But in a written statement, a spokesperson said, "The archdiocese had no legal obligation to alert authorities. (They did it) as a courtesy."
DiNardo says the alleged abuse happened at the Christ the King Church on North Main between 1989 and 1993, when Pastor Stephen R. Horn officiated there.
City of Houston crime victim's advocate Andy Kahan says the church investigating one of its own is like the fox guarding the hen house.
"In November when you found out, you should have immediately notified law enforcement," Kahan explained. "Let them conduct the investigation. That's what they do. They're the professionals and you want to maintain some kind of objectivity."
Church officials say the alleged victim is receiving counseling. Horn remains a priest, but he has been removed from his current assignment at St. Luke the Evangelist in Houston. The DA's offi ce tells Eyewitness News that HPD has launched an investigation into this case. They are looking for other potential victims.
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