Priest Suspended While Allegation Is Investigated
Lake Highlands: Leader Is Accused of Improper Conduct Years Ago

By Jon Nielsen
The Dallas Morning News
May 21, 2006

The pastor of St. Patrick Church in Lake Highlands has been suspended, the Dallas Diocese said Sunday, pending an investigation of improper conduct with a minor more than 20 years ago.

The Rev. Monsignor Richard E. Johnson, 76, has been relieved from his pastoral duties at the church, according to a story on the Web site of Texas Catholic, the official diocesan newspaper. It said Dallas Bishop Charles V. Grahmann reported the allegation to authorities and called for the convening of a diocesan review board.

James C. Beakey Sr., a member of St. Patrick since 1968, said he couldn't believe the allegations against the church's pastor of 22 years.

"He has done a wonderful job for our parish; I will support him 110 percent," Mr. Beakey said. "I'm extremely surprised and will fight it with all my might."

Monsignor Johnson attended Texas Christian University, St. John's Archdiocesan Seminary in San Antonio and St. Bernard Seminary in Cullman, Ala. In the 1960s, he was an assistant pastor of St. Cecilia parish in north Oak Cliff. In 1973, Mr. Johnson was named pastor of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the White Rock area.

The allegation against Monsignor Johnson is the latest involving the Dallas Diocese, which has paid more than $45 million in abuse settlements over the last decade, much of it to victims of priests. About a dozen such cases remain unresolved. Fort Worth Bishop Joseph Delaney, who died in July, last year identified eight priests that he said had been accused of sexually abusing children.

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York reported last year that nationally, 5,000 priests had abused nearly 12,000 minors, with the estimated costs topping $1 billion. Some dioceses have declared bankruptcy under the weight of their financial liability.

U.S. Catholic bishops meeting in Dallas in 2002 voted to remove from his duties any priest guilty of child molestation, regardless of when the abuse happened.



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