Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed against Diocese of Brownsville
June 6, 2014
A former altar boy has filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Brownsville.
The now 18-year-old victim filed the lawsuit at the Hidalgo County Courthouse on Thursday morning.
According to the lawsuit, the teen claims he was sexually abused by Ronaldo Mitchell Chavez.
The teen claims Chavez sexually abused him several times between 2010 and 2012 while serving as an altar boy.
Chavez worked as a deacon at at the San Cristobal Magallanes Catholic Church in Mission where he befriended and later sexually abused the boy.
Mission police arrested Chavez on a continuous sexual abuse of a child charge back in January.
Chavez's criminal case remains pending before Judge Israel Ramon, Jr. with the 430th State District Court in Edinburg.
The lawsuit alleges that the diocese allowed Chavez to have unlimited and unsupervised access to children, giving him the opportunity to exploit his position of trust and confidence.
According to the lawsuit, Chavez used a premeditated pattern of grooming behavior to lure unsuspecting altar servers.
The teen's name is being withheld to protect his identity as a victim of sexual abuse.
But the victimís attorneys believe he is only one of many innocent children victimized by Chavez and "the negligence of the Diocese."
ďWe hope the bravery of our client in coming forward and the lawsuit to hold the Diocese accountable, will convince other victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Chavez or other Catholic clergy to come forward. We want them to know they can pursue justice while protecting their privacy and avoiding disclosure of their identity,Ē said the victimís Attorney Ricardo Salinas.
"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 Godís 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. Chavezí 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 Godís Children, who is readily available to serve as a liaison and facilitate a meeting and care."