West Texas Diocese Pays Cash Settlement in Civil Case

By Shanna Sissom
Midland Reporter-Telegram
November 14, 2002

The settlement, to be paid by church insurance, goes to a teen-age male victim of sexual assault at the hands of foreign national Agusti Huerres for more than one occasion of sexual contact including acts performed on church property.

Huerres spent time in San Angelo a few years ago while being considered for entering the priesthood.

Pfeifer said he investigated the incident within days and paid for family counseling, but that the family did not want to press charges against Huerres, so local authorities declined to prosecute Huerres.

"We were deeply saddened by the terrible action of this individual, who owned up to it, thank God," Pfeifer said.

Huerres then fled back home to Spain, where Pfeifer contacted a bishop there, alerting him to the West Texas assault and eliminating his hope of ever becoming a Roman Catholic priest.

Even though opting not to press criminal charges, the family decided to sue the church about two and one-half months after the incident.

"They were looking for $50,000 or more," Pfeifer explained, by alleging a cover-up by both the diocese and civil authorities.

"But the cover-up allegation was dropped, and after that was dropped, we felt we had a good chance to win in court," the bishop explained and referred to the lawsuit as an "unjust use" of the court system.

"However, it was for economic reasons we settled after I was counseled strongly to do so but I'm not totally pleased with the outcome," Pfeifer said, explaining that the cost of defending such a case would exceed the cost of settlement.

At the time of the assault, Huerres was living with the Rev. Joe Vasquez of San Angelo.

This is the first such settlement reached since Pfeifer became bishop 17 years ago.

Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.