Catholic Diocese Sued after Sexual Abuse Claimed
By Ldefonso Ortiz
Valley Morning Star
June 6, 2014
A Mission teenager claims a Catholic deacon at a Mission church sexually abused him for about two years, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.
The victim — now 18 years old — claims that from 2010 to 2012, when he was an altar boy at the San Cristobal Magallanes parish in Mission, Deacon Ronaldo Mitchell Chavez sexually assaulted him, the teen’s attorneys said in the lawsuit.
Police on Jan. 17 arrested Chavez on a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child. Last month, an Hidalgo County grand jury returned an indictment against him on the sexual abuse charge. The case remains pending in the 430th state District Court.
In the lawsuit, attorneys seek exemplary damages claiming that the diocese should have known that Chavez was a danger to children, but instead he had unlimited access to the altar boys at the parish.
Chavez curried favor with the parents and used parish activities to get the altar servers alone in order to sexually abuse them, the attorneys claim in the lawsuit.
The church’s encouragement to have young males serve as altar boys, while not taking reasonable care to keep predators away and promoting their facilities and institutions as safe helped create the situation that led to John Doe becoming a victim, the attorneys claim.
The lawsuit claims that some of the church’s employees and leaders were not safe to be around children and that there was a risk of sexual abuse when having teenagers and younger boy as altar servers.
In a statement, the diocese said Chavez was removed in October 2012 when a parish priest learned of the allegations.
“The allegation was then reported to law enforcement,” the statement reads. “Due diligence was followed by the diocese at every step of the process.”
In recent years, various dioceses throughout the nation have paid multi-million dollar settlements to settle sexual abuse lawsuits with victims.
About a dozen dioceses have filed for bankruptcy protection after those cases were settled.
In January, the Catholic Diocese in Helena, Montana, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy following a $15 million settlement with a group of victims who had been abused by priests for decades, according to The Associated Press.
Earlier this week, a federal appeals court heard arguments related to the bankrupt Archdiocese of Milwaukee regarding a $55 million fund that the church had set up for victims of sexual abuse.
Statement from the Diocese of Brownsville:
We want the faithful of the Rio Grande Valley to know that we continue to do everything possible to ensure a safe environment, and that the Diocese of Brownsville is in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Protecting God’s Children Program, which has been in place for 12 years in our diocese, provides special training that is required of all local church workers and volunteers, be they clergy or not.
To date, since 2002, more than 14,000 people have participated in this training. It has raised awareness in our entire community about the vigilance that is required of all responsible adults for the protection of our children. The programs have helped to raise awareness of this societal problem.
Mitch Chavez, who was a deacon in the Diocese of Brownsville, served at San Cristobal de Magallanes parish in Mission. He was ordained a deacon on Dec. 18, 2010. Chavez’ faculties to minister as a deacon in the diocese were removed in October 2012 when an allegation was reported to the parish priest and brought to the attention of the diocese. The allegation was then reported to law enforcement. Due diligence was followed by the diocese at every step of the process.
We continue to pray for all concerned, and encourage anyone who has information of suspected misconduct to contact the diocese and Walter Lukaszek, coordinator of Protecting God’s Children, who is readily available to serve as a liaison and facilitate a meeting and care.