Priest's Sentencing on Sex Charge Applauded

By Bronislaus B. Kush
Telegram & Gazette [Worcester MA]
March 9, 2007

George "Skip" Shea said there was no closure after he agreed to an undisclosed out-of-court settlement years ago with the Worcester diocese over the allegation that he was abused by the Rev. Thomas H. Teczar at St. Mary's Church in Uxbridge during the 1970s.

Yesterday, he said the emotional scars remain and will most likely never go away, even after a Texas judge late Wednesday afternoon sentenced Rev. Teczar to 25 years in prison for the aggravated sexual assault of an 11-year-old boy in that state during the early 1990s.

"It's tough to say what I'm feeling (today)," said the Uxbridge man. "There is a feeling of some kind of relief but, This whole business with him is a mess. In the whole course of his life, look how many lives he's destroyed."

Rev. Teczar, 65, was found guilty by Texas state District Judge Steven Herod of three counts of sexual assault and one count of indecency with a child.

The priest had waived his right to a jury trial.

Rev. Teczar, who was ordained a priest in the Worcester diocese in 1967, was barred from clerical duties locally in the 1980s by then-Bishop Timothy J. Harrington.

However, he later took an assignment in the Fort Worth diocese and ministered at several parishes, including a church in Ranger, where the victim was abused.

Officials said the victim testified that he was enticed into having sex with threats and promises by Rev. Teczar.

The court proceedings, which were held in the state courthouse in Eastland, located about 90 miles west of Fort Worth, lasted two days.

The priest was originally arraigned on the charges in 2003 and was free on $30,000 bail. He was arrested in 2002 in Dudley, where he lived, on a fugitive of justice warrant and was picked up again by authorities in 2003 on a governor's warrant.

According to Texas officials, the Fort Worth diocese in 2005 settled a $4.15 million lawsuit with two accusers, including the one who filed criminal complaints in Eastland.

Mr. Shea, who has been staging a multimedia show about his turbulent life, said he is satisfied with the sentence.

"At his age, there's a good chance he'll die in jail," said Mr. Shea. "The important thing is he's off the street and can't harm another child. No one else will be hurt."

Worcester Bishop Robert J. McManus called for area Catholics to pray for Rev. Teczar's victims, as well as for the priest.

"It is with a firm belief in the healing grace of God's love that I ask for prayers for the victims of Father Thomas Teczar and their families," said Bishop McManus. "In Christian charity, may we also keep Father Teczar and the Teczar family in our prayers during his incarceration."

David Clohessy, executive director of the 8,000-member national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the Rev. Teczar's conviction was a victory for all victims.

He estimated that fewer than 3 percent of all "predatory priests" are ever charged.

"There are three reasons why they never go to court. First, most states have archaic, arbitrary and dangerous statute of limitations restrictions," he explained. "Secondly, many police and prosecutors are cowards when it comes to going after priests. And finally, you have the church trying to cover up these acts by priests."

Mr. Clohessy said Rev. Teczar's conviction may prompt other victims to come forward.



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