Priest Gets 20 Years for Abuse

By Kym Fox
Times-Picayune [New Orleans, LA]
August 18, 1994

A Catholic priest who molested altar boys - at times just minutes before entering the sanctuary to say Mass - has received three 20-year sentences as part of a plea bargain.

During the sentencing hearing, the boys and their parents told District Judge Sharon MacRae that the priest had "killed their souls."

Xavier Ortiz-Dietz, 48, had been the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Von Ormy, Texas, and Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish in Macdona, Texas, before being removed from his duties last year after sexual abuse allegations arose.

Ortiz-Dietz appeared Monday in 290th District Court and pleaded no contest to one charge of aggravated sexual assault and two charges of indecency with a child.

Ortiz-Dietz was sentenced to 20 years in prison in each case, with the sentences to run concurrently. He will have to serve at least five years in prison before becoming eligible for parole, Assistant District Attorney Catherine Babbitt said.

Babbitt said she offered the 20-year sentences because under the law a jury in one case would not have been told that the priest had been accused of sexual abuse against other children. "He had a real shot at probation and that was my fear," Babbitt said.

The families of the three victims understood that reasoning but still were upset that the sentence was not longer.

Standing before the judge, a 15-year-old boy, who was the victim in the aggravated sexual assault case, told the judge he was "really angry" that the priest did not receive a stiffer sentence.

The boy stared at Ortiz-Dietz. The priest stared straight ahead and showed no emotion.

Ortiz-Dietz began molesting the boys when they were altar boys serving at one or the other of the parishes, according to the complaints. One was 8 years old when the molestations began in 1989. The boy, who was an altar boy at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church, said the priest would fondle him while the two were in the sacristy, where the priest puts on his vestments just minutes before going into the church to say Mass.

"He would tell me to sit on his lap like Santa Claus," the boy told authorities in a written statement.

The boy said the priest told him God would punish him if he told anyone about the incidents.

Another boy, who is now 14, told authorities that he used to go to Ortiz-Dietz's house where the priest would show him pornographic movies and then fondle him. The boy also said he was fondled at church.

The 15-year-old told authorities that the priest began by fondling him but the abuse escalated to include various sex acts.

Both the 15-year-old and the mother of one of the other boys told the judge that they had lost all faith in the priesthood as a result of the abuse.


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