A 'Full Disclosure' Withheld Key Details

Star-Telegram [Fort Worth TX]
November 29, 2006

[See related articles on the Fort Worth files, and the accused priests Hanlon, Howlett, Magaldi, Reilly, and Renterķa. See also the documents on which this series is based, with links to assignment records and background information.]

The Rev. William Reece Hoover

Ordained: May 28, 1955, Dallas-Fort Worth

Died: Oct. 19, 1996

Assignments: St. James, Dallas; Holy Cross, Dallas; St. Patrick, Fort Worth; Christ the King, Dallas; Blessed Sacrament, Dallas; St. Cecilia, Dallas; St. Edward, location not known; St. Thomas, location not known; Holy Name, Fort Worth; St. Patrick, Fort Worth

William Reece Hoover

The Rev. William Hoover was a fixture at St. Patrick Cathedral in downtown Fort Worth. Even after an allegation was raised against him in 1995, he continued to receive support from his congregation.

That year, Bishop Delaney announced that Hoover had admitted to molesting a child at Boy Scout outings while serving as the Scouts' chaplain about 38 years earlier.

After learning of the allegation, Hoover's congregation held at least one prayer service, "a Holy Hour for Father William Hoover." They also prayed for the victim.

But from the start, Delaney's public announcement about the case had held back crucial details, including that Hoover had admitted abusing two other boys about the same time.

Delaney also did not say that he was considering putting Hoover back into ministry, even as new allegations of abuse came to his attention.

Bishop knew of other victims

Hoover's first accuser contacted the diocese in summer 1995, telling of how he had been abused as a child and had in turn had sex with an adolescent. The victim listed $50,000 in costs he wanted the diocese to pay, though Delaney wrote that the diocese had no legal liability in the case.

When Delaney issued a public statement about the incident on July 2, 1995, he said a man had come forward to report "an incident that occurred nearly 40 years ago."

Delaney told the Star-Telegram that day, "When a complaint of this nature is found to be true, the care of the Catholic community requires that a full disclosure be made."

But just a few days before, Hoover had told Delaney "there were two other boys with whom he was involved at the same time ..."

The next day, Delaney wrote that he was deliberately stingy with information. "Because the facts made public are so few I hope that the publicity will quickly die down."

It didn't.

Because of newspaper and radio coverage of the abuse, the diocese was hearing about new allegations against Hoover.

By July 7, there were at least five additional complaints against the priest, according to a Star-Telegram article published at the time.

In an Aug. 11 memo in the confidential files, Delaney wrote that he had learned that nine boys were alleged to have been abused, in contrast to the three boys the priest had admitted to molesting. More complaints were to come.

The next day, Delaney sent a letter to the parishioners of St. Patrick Cathedral. Delaney publicly acknowledged for the first time that Hoover had immediately admitted to molesting several individuals.

But he told parishioners that "in spite of all the publicity, there have been no further accusations of misconduct by Father Hoover and none occurring after 1960."

Back under consideration for ministry work

By winter 1995, Delaney was considering whether to put Hoover back to work.

Delaney wrote in the confidential files on Nov. 28, 1995, that Hoover would probably stay retired, but he considered the priest for other duties: "Possibilities include representative to priests, helping Spanish ministry at Holy Name, Prop of Faith, etc."

In October 1996, on a sightseeing trip in New York City, Hoover collapsed and died of a heart attack at age 65. The Star-Telegram reported that, at the time of his death, Hoover had been assisting as a priest at Holy Name Catholic Church in Fort Worth.

More victims came forward after his death, including a man who reported being abused in a church sacristy at a rehearsal for a cousin's wedding when he was 11.

At a meeting in July 2000, representatives from the Dallas Diocese told Vicar General Joseph Schumacher that they had settled with three or four Hoover accusers.

"They got them to accept cash, supposedly for counseling, amounting to an aggregate of some $70,000: $50,000 in one case, $15,000 in another and then $5,000+ in the others."

As recently as September, a prayer Hoover wrote was still in prayer books at St. Patrick


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