Priest Is Given 25 Years for Sex Abuse

By Darren Barbee
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
March 8, 2007

Eastland — Closing one of the most notorious chapters in the history of the Fort Worth Diocese, the Rev. Thomas Teczar was convicted Wednesday of sexual assault and indecency and was sentenced to 25 years in prison for molesting and raping an 11-year-old boy.

The Roman Catholic priest, 65, chose not to have a jury trial, so state District Judge Steven Herod decided the verdict and sentence.

Teczar's accuser, a Taylor County man now in his late 20s, said "Yes!" as the verdict was announced. The man said he is still angry about being abused in the early 1990s when Teczar was a priest at St. Rita's Catholic Church in Ranger.

"I can't find better counseling than watching him leave this courtroom in handcuffs," the man said. The Star-Telegram typically does not identify victims in sexual assault cases.

Teczar, who now lives in Massachusetts, is believed to be the only priest convicted of a crime that occurred while he was serving in the Fort Worth Diocese. Several other Fort Worth clerics have been accused in civil court suits of similar acts.

While standing in a courthouse hallway after he was convicted, but while Herod was deliberating the sentence, Teczar would not answer questions. But he could be heard on a cellphone, saying, "I've been found guilty and will probably be going to jail for the rest of my life."

He was convicted on three counts of sexual assault and one count of indecency with a child. He was given 25 years for each of the assault charges and 15 for the indecency charge. The sentences will run concurrently.

Eastland County District Attorney Russ Thomason said Teczar will have to serve at least half of his 25-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Thomason had asked the judge for a life sentence.

Teczar's attorney, Edwin Youngblood, said he was unsure whether the priest would appeal.

In closing remarks, Thomason said Teczar abused eight children in Massachusetts over a period of decades before coming to Texas.

In 2005, the Fort Worth Diocese settled a suit for $4.15 million with two of Teczar's accusers, one of whom filed the criminal complaint in Eastland.

"There is a pattern. That pattern is clear. That man is a wolf in sheep's clothing," Thomason told the court. "He took advantage of those young men."

In his closing argument, Youngblood told the judge that the state hadn't proven its case and that if the priest was guilty of anything, it was of not reporting sexual abuse by others when he discovered it in Ranger.

Teczar served as parish priest in Ranger and other parishes in Eastland and Tarrant counties from 1988 until he left the state in 1993 as police investigated child sex-abuse accusations against two friends of Teczar's.

Teczar left the area after refusing to testify before a grand jury.

Both men, Daniel Hawley and DeWilliam Bixler, are serving prison sentences for abusing as many as nine children, including Teczar's accuser.

The Taylor County man did not go to police until years later about Teczar, Youngblood told the judge.

Youngblood, who called two witnesses in Teczar's defense, said the man had been influenced by Teczar's other accusers. In one case, the man may have confused the priest with another clergyman, Youngblood told the judge.

Youngblood also questioned an incident in which the man testified that Teczar had abused him in a small plane while the priest piloted the plane.

"There is no evidence that Thomas Teczar was ever a licensed pilot," Youngblood said.

He said the account was fantasy, "stretching past the breaking point of credulity, and even the laws of physics."

A large portion of Wednesday's testimony centered on the plane ride.

Teczar's accuser said the priest and Hawley took him up in a blue airplane that had images of Mickey Mouse on it. A Texas Ranger testified that he located the plane at a local airfield.

The man's mother testified that Teczar asked for permission to take her son flying.

The man testified that while flying, Hawley performed a sex act on Teczar, and the priest told him to masturbate, the man testified.

But Greg Crawford, a local pilot and former Teczar parishioner, testified that the plane would have been unstable and unsafe carrying the weight of those three passengers.

Thomason later called questions about the plane a "rabbit trail."

Earlier Wednesday, Teczar's accuser took the stand. The man testified that he was 11, playing in his front yard as his mother sat on the porch, when Teczar came up and introduced himself.

The priest invited the family to attend his church across the street, St. Rita's Catholic Church in Ranger, he told the court.

In time, the priest befriended him, giving him access to alcohol and cigarettes, and even letting him drive Teczar's Mercedes, he testified.

Within a year, the priest gave him a warning: If he told anyone about the touching and the rape, Teczar would take him away from his home and his mother and put him in jail.

The priest told him that he had done it to other boys, the man testified.

The man said he came forward in 2002 because he now has children.

"I don't know what I would do if anything happened to them," he said. "I wanted to get him off the street and put him where he belongs."

During testimony in the penalty phase, a Tarrant County man testified that Teczar had been a friend and mentor to him.

That changed in the early 1990s, he said, when he visited the priest in Ranger and, on one occasion, Teczar disrobed and asked to be masturbated.

The man, who was older than 18 at the time, said he was too embarrassed to tell anyone what had happened.

Later, he said, he realized that Teczar's behavior was not his fault.

The man testified that he had sought Teczar's advice because he wanted a priest's guidance.


Other sex-abuse convictions involving priests in the Metroplex:

Rudolph "Rudy" Kos was convicted in 1998 of molesting four boys more than 1,350 times between 1987 and 1992 while he was assigned to St. Luke's Catholic Church in Irving and St. John's Catholic Church in Ennis.

The Rev. Emeh "Anthony" Nwaogu was sentenced to prison for molesting a girl while serving at a Dallas-area church.

Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126


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