Update: 60-year Sentence for Ex-priest Who Plotted to Kill Abuse Accuser
By Scott Goldstein
Dallas Morning News
May 18, 2012
|John Fiala also faces sex assault charges in Edwards County.|
UPDATE AT 4:35: The jury sentenced Fiala to 60 years in prison. He will be eligible for parole after 15 years.
UPDATE AT 11:45: In closing arguments, prosecutors asked for a life sentence for ex-priest John Fiala. Defense attorney Rex Gunter said anything more than 15 years would be a “travesty.”
Prosecutor Brandon Birmingham also asked jurors to assess a fine of $5,000.16. Fiala had agreed to pay $5,000 to have his sex abuse accuser killed. The abuse allegedly began when the boy was 16 years old.
The jury is deliberating.
A man who accused his priest of sexually assaulting him when he was a boy in West Texas said he never told his family about the attacks because he was so scared.
“I felt like I was saving their lives,” the accuser, now 20, testified this morning in a Dallas County courtroom.
The now ex-priest, John Fiala, was convicted yesterday of trying to hire a hit man in Dallas to kill the accuser in 2010. The jury that convicted him will decide his punishment. He faces up to life in prison.
The sex assault accuser is not being named because The Dallas Morning News generally does not identify possible victims of sex crimes. He also testified on Wednesday.
The 53-year-old former Roman Catholic priest faces separate charges he sexually assaulted the boy in West Texas several years ago, including at gunpoint.
The accuser said Fiala would help take him to see his girlfriend, who lived a few hours away. The attacks would sometimes occur in hotel rooms Fiala rented en route to see the girlfriend.
The accuser recalled the attacks in graphic detail, including the first one he remembers.
“He turns off the light and bad things start happening,” he said.
The boy never told his friends or family, he said, because of Fiala’s threats that he would harm them.
Attacks also happened at Fiala’s rectory and in vehicles, the accuser said. In at least one case, Fiala put a gun to the boy’s head in forcing him to perform a sex act, according to testimony.
The purported hit man Fiala tried to hire to kill the boy in a 2010 meeting in Dallas was actually an undercover Texas Department of Public Safety agent.
After Fiala’s arrest, authorities found photos of young men, and possibly boys, on his computer. Some of them were wearing only underwear and exposing themselves.
Fiala also apparently used a Facebook account under the name “Ziggy the Great,” collected toys and had a Sponge Bob Square Pants calendar, according to testimony.