Eastland DA Plans to Retry Priest

By Jane Pratt
Abilene Reporter-News
October 22, 2008

The Eastland County district attorney said he plans to try for a second conviction in a sexual assault case against a Catholic priest after the first conviction was reversed last week by the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland.

The court reversed the trial court conviction of Thomas H. Teczar, who was found guilty of the sexual assault of an 11-year-old boy in the 1990s, and sent the case back to trial court for a new trial.

The three-member court of appeals overruled Teczar's assertion that he was denied due process because the prosecuting attorneys represented the victim in a suit for damages against him and the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.

However, the court sustained the assertion that the trial judge made an error in admitting evidence from David Lewcon as an expert witness and allowing testimony about alleged abuse for which Teczar had not been charged.

Lewcon, a co-founder of a New England advocacy group for victims of priest abuse, had alleged that he had been abused by Teczar when the priest was assigned to a church in Massachusetts in the 1970s. The court found that his testimony was based on personal experience.

Eastland County District Attorney Russ Thomason said Wednesday he plans to retry Teczar as soon as possible. He said that as soon as he receives the final order from the appeals court, he will take steps to move him from the Texas prison system to the Eastland County jail, where he will be held for trial.

Thomason said he has not yet been in contact with Teczar's attorney.

Robin Norris, the El Paso-based attorney for Teczar, said he planned to meet with his client and Thomason to discuss options.

"Father Teczar has insisted all along upon his innocence," Norris said.

Teczar was a priest in the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese until his departure in 1993. He served in several parishes, including Ranger, where the victim testified he was abused.

The 67-year-old priest was found guilty of sexual assault of a child by a judge on March 7, 2007. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison on three counts of sexual assault of a child and 15 years in prison on one count of indecency. Thomason said the sentences were to run concurrently.

In the original trial, the victim said he was given marijuana and alcohol, allowed to smoke and drive the Mercedes that belonged to the priest to entice him. A second man involved in the encounters has been convicted of molesting teenage boys.


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