Grand Jury Indicts Former Conroe Priest on Child Sex Abuse Charges
By Nicole Hensley
May 2, 2019
|Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez is accused of sexually abusing children while working at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe. La Rosa-Lopez is charged with four counts of indecency with a child.|
A grand jury on Thursday indicted a former Conroe priest on charges stemming from child sex abuse allegations, according to court records.
Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was indicted on two of the four counts of indecency with a child that led to his Sept. 11 arrest, records show. The two charges stem from incidents alleged to have happened to a female parishioner on April 9, 2000, while the cleric was assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Montgomery County.
Two more charges of indecency with a child — in connection to allegations from a male parishioner — have not yet been presented to a grand jury and the investigation remains ongoing, said Tyler Dunman, the head of Montgomery County District Attorney's Office Special Crimes Bureau.
The female accuser, now an adult, came forward to police a month before La Rosa-Lopez’s arrest that in 2000, while her family attended the parish, the priest was grooming her for a sexual relationship, according to a sworn statement from a Conroe Police Department detective. On April 9 of that year, La Rosa-Lopez brought the girl to his office after confession, took off his clerical collar and kissed her, the investigator wrote.
The priest groped her two days later in the church kitchen after practice for a Passion of the Christ play, the statement read.
The parishioner’s father complained to church leaders after finding his daughter’s diary that recounted the incidents, police said.
After the complaint, La Rosa-Lopez was removed from ministry and ordered to undergo rehabilitation at the Shalom Center in Splendora. Law enforcement who searched the facility in September found a memorandum that described a 2001 interview with the female accuser, and a note that she “was credible.”