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  Flores Holds Firm Archbishop Denies Warning in 1974

By J. Michael Parker
San Antonio Express-News [Texas]
June 16, 1998

Archbishop Patrick Flores insists he had no warning about pedophile priest Xavier Ortiz-Dietz until three families in Von Ormy contacted his staff in 1992.

That assertion followed news accounts last week of court records suggesting church leaders were warned in 1974 that Ortiz- Dietz exhibited "marked sexual conflicts."

The Archdiocese of San Antonio agreed June 5 to a $4 million settlement in a civil suit filed by the families of seven boys who accused Ortiz-Dietz of sexual misconduct between 1987 and 1992 when he was a pastor in MacDona and Von Ormy.

Ortiz-Dietz is serving a 20-year jail sentence after pleading nolo contendere in 1993 to three sexual abuse charges involving altar servers.

Flores earlier this week claimed he first saw a highly critical report of Ortiz-Dietz from a school in Guadalajara only after it was shown to him this year by plaintiffs' attorneys during depositions.

That report on Ortiz-Dietz's work in 1972-73 described him as having "marked sexual conflicts, hypocrisy ... obsessive manias, well-defined paranoid characteristics, delusions of grandeur, vanity and narcissism."

"It (the report) was very hard to read," Flores said. "It was poorly typed and partly handwritten. I couldn't read the signature. When I asked (plaintiffs' attorneys) who had sent the letter, they were very vague about it," he said.

Flores added it wasn't the evaluation of a professional psychiatrist or psychologist.

Flores said he was told by the Mexican schools Ortiz-Dietz had attended that their records contained nothing negative about him.

"We had received nine positive evaluations on his behalf and only one negative. Evaluations are not infallible," he said.

Flores acknowledged his 1974 letter telling Ortiz-Dietz not to worry about a possible negative letter from the bishop of Oaxaca, but said the bishop only had expressed disappointment that Ortiz-Dietz wanted to leave his diocese.

Court records show that two months after Flores wrote Ortiz- Dietz, Oaxaca sent Assumption Seminary a copy of the Guadalajara letter.

Flores said Ortiz-Dietz had approached him about working in the San Antonio archdiocese because several relatives lived in South Texas.

"I told him to send letters of recommendations from professors and pastors to Father Joe Lopez, the vocation director at the seminary," he said.

Ortiz-Dietz sent his information to Flores to pass along to Lopez, but Lopez alone made the evaluation, Flores said.

Flores asserted Grace Palacio of Rocksprings could not have informed him personally about Ortiz-Dietz on the date she claimed in 1983. Palacio stated in a deposition she told Flores that Ortiz-Dietz had given her and her husband bizarre, inappropriate sexual advice during premarital counseling.

"My calendar clearly shows that on that date, I was in Rome attending a synod," the archbishop said.

Palacio said Monday she had not given a specific date for the contact with Flores.

To Lois Heath's claim in a deposition that Ortiz-Dietz had told her he'd had thoughts of doing things with children that he knew were wrong, Flores denied he was informed and added:

"She said she waited three months before calling it to anyone's attention. Why? The state tells us we must report knowledge of child abuse immediately."

Heath, a former church secretary, said Monday she delayed reporting Ortiz-Dietz because she knew of no actual molestation by him at the time.

She also hesitated, she said, because Father Edward Everitt, chairman of the archdiocese crisis intervention committee, earlier had failed to intervene when she reported her two sons and three other boys had been sexually molested by a traveling religious order priest.

"If she told Father Everitt and he didn't tell me, how would I know?" Flores said.

 
 

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