Defamation or protected religious speech? Disgraced Catholic deacon asks Supreme Court to decide

Washington Times [Washington, D.C.]

June 12, 2021

By Mark A. Kellner

The lawyer for a 77-year-old Roman Catholic deacon in Lubbock, Texas, says he plans to ask the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse a June 11 state supreme court ruling allowing the Diocese of Lubbock to label the man, Jesse Guerrero, as being “credibly accused” of sexually abusing a minor.

Under the Texas Supreme Court decision, attorney Nick L. Olguin told The Washington Times in a telephone interview, The “[Roman Catholic] Church can define words to mean whatever they want it to be in terms of ‘canon law.’ They can say whatever the heck they want to say to whomever they want to say it, even if it’s not true.”

The case centers on a list entitled “Names of All Clergy with a Credible Allegation of Sexual Abuse of a Minor” that the Lubbock diocese posted on its website in January of 2019. In that list, Mr. Guerrero — a deacon whose permission to perform sacramental functions including baptism, assisting at Mass, preaching homilies, and conducting weddings and funeral had been withdrawn in 2008 — was listed as having abused a “minor,” even though the woman allegedly involved was over the age of 21.