Priest Convicted of Sexually Abusing Boy in Ranger in "90s

By Darren Barbeed
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
March 26, 2009

Thomas Teczar leaves the courtroom during a recess in his 2007 trial in Eastland County.

For a second time, the Rev. Thomas Teczar has been found guilty of sexually abusing a boy in Ranger in the 1990s, special prosecutor Tahira Khan Merritt with the Eastland County district attorney's office said today.

In 2007, Teczar was sentenced to 25 years in prison -- but his conviction on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child was overturned on appeal.

Thursday, on the fourth day of his retrial, an Eastland County jury took less than an hour to find that Teczar raped and molested an 11-year-old boy in Ranger in the early 1990s. Ranger is about 90 miles west of Fort Worth.

In the Catholic priest's first trial, State District Judge Steven Herod decided the verdict and sentence. Teczar, who elected to have a jury for his second trial, will now have it decide his punishment. He faces up to life in prison.

During the trial, Daniel Hawley, Teczar's adult male lover, testified that the priest did not abuse the boy.

Hawley is serving 35 years for molesting the boy as well as several other children in Ranger.

Teczar has said he knew Hawley and another man were abusing children, but did not report it to police. "I didn't know I had an obligation to do that," Teczar told the Star-Telegram in 2005.

Teczar is in the process of being defrocked at the request of the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese.

The diocese has settled with six of Teczar's accusers, including two in 2005 who received $4.15 million. One of the men who received part of the $4.15 million settlement is the same man who brought sexual abuse allegations to Texas Rangers, resulting in the Eastland trial.

The jury resumes deliberation in the punishment phase at 2:30 p.m.

The 11th Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in the first trial, finding that the trial court erred by allowing a witness -- a man who said Teczar abused him -- to testify as an expert about the sexual abuse of children.

The trial court erred by admitting the man as an expert in the psychology and behavior of those who commit child sexual abuse and their victims, the appellate court ruled. The man "lacked the qualifications to testify as an expert and ... his testimony was not supported by evidence of any scientific theory," the appeals court found.

DARREN BARBEE, 817-390-7126 or


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