Diocese Settles Abuse Lawsuit
By Darren Barbee
Fort Worth - The Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese has agreed to a $2.75 million out-of-court settlement with a second Texas man who said he was sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas Teczar.
The settlement follows a $1.4 million settlement with another Texas man. Both men accused Teczar of groping and raping them in the early 1990s in Ranger. Teczar served in several parishes in the diocese, including Fort Worth, Bedford and Ranger, from 1988 until 1993.
The diocese agreed to the settlement Tuesday at the advice of its attorneys after "weighing the options and considering the uncertainty of litigation," according to a statement released to the Star-Telegram on Thursday.
The money was paid from insurance coverage and the diocese, according to the statement. The man's attorney, Tahira Khan Merritt of Dallas, could not be reached for comment. Her client was identified as John Doe II in the suit. He was 12 when the abuse began, according to court documents.
The lawsuit, filed in April 2003 against the dioceses of Fort Worth and Worcester, Mass., alleged that Fort Worth Bishop Joseph Delaney knew that Teczar posed a threat to children because of his "sexual interest" in adolescents. Delaney could not be reached for further comment.
According to the diocese statement, "At the time that Thomas Teczar came to the diocese there were no allegations of sexual misconduct against him. When he left the area in 1993 the diocese had no knowledge of sexual misconduct on his part."
Daniel Shea of Houston represented the man who agreed to last month's settlement. Shea's client was 15 when he was abused, according to the lawsuit.
Shea said Thursday that the diocese's statement is "patently false."
"Delaney still tries to say that they had no idea what they were getting into," Shea said. "Teczar even pledged all of his personal assets to the diocese" in case it was sued. "And they're saying 'we didn't know?' "
Teczar, reached Thursday at his home in Dudley, Mass., declined to comment. He has previously said he did not abuse anyone. He has not worked as a priest since leaving the Fort Worth diocese.
Teczar was ordained in 1967. Before coming to the Fort Worth area, Teczar worked as a priest in the Worcester Diocese, where he was forced out after being accused of inappropriate behavior with a teen-age boy, court documents show.
In a court deposition, Delaney stated that he considered Teczar a risk before he allowed the priest to serve the Fort Worth Diocese in the summer of 1988. Teczar was rejected by two other dioceses before Delaney allowed him to serve in Fort Worth, court documents show.
Later in the deposition, Delaney said that in a conversation with Teczar the priest admitted "to being sexually attracted to adolescents in every way." Delaney said he considered anyone ages 12 to 20 to be an adolescent.
He also said that Teczar received therapy in California that was intense but "very successful."
In the deposition, Delaney also said that if he had "any fear that that problem would ever arise again, I could not and would not accept him at all for any length of time."
Teczar still faces one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, three counts of sexual assault and one count of indecency with a child with sexual contact in Eastland County related to his time at St. Rita's Catholic Church in Ranger.
In Thursday's statement, Delaney and Worcester Bishop Robert McManus expressed regret "to the extent Father Thomas Teczar may have injured anyone."
Delaney echoed previous statements on abuse, saying, "My heart goes out to anyone who has suffered sexual abuse, but especially when this has occurred at the hands of someone who has betrayed a sacred trust."
As recently as last year, the diocese sent representatives to speak at the parishes in which Teczar served. They asked any possible victims to come forward.
In the Know
Abuse hot line
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth has set up a hot line for victims of sexual abuse. Call (817) 560-2452, Ext. 900, or Judy Locke, the victims-assistance coordinator, at the same number, Ext. 201; or call Ext. 102 to speak to the Rev. Robert Wilson.
Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese, www.fwdioc.org
Staff Writer Katherine Cromer Contributed to This Report.
Darren Barbee, (817) 685-3818 firstname.lastname@example.org
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