Jury Gives Priest 50 Years

By Celinda Emison
Abilene Reporter-News
March 27, 2009

A Catholic priest found guilty Thursday of sexual assault and indecency was sentenced to 50 years in prison by an Eastland County jury Friday.

The Rev. Thomas Teczar, 68, was sentenced to 50 years each for three counts of sexual assault and 15 years for one count of indecency with a child. He also was assessed a $10,000 fine for each count. The sentences run concurrently, and Teczar must serve a quarter of the time before he is eligible for parole according to Texas laws in 1990, when the offenses were committed. Judge Steven Herod announced the sentence.

"I am very pleased," said 91st District Attorney Russ Thomason. "This man left a trail of damaged youngsters from Massachusetts to Texas, and now he can't do that any more."

Teczar was sentenced on his 68th birthday.

The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated for more than two hours before handing down the sentence. It took them less than an hour to return the guilty verdict Thursday.

Teczar was indicted in 2003 on sexual assault charges involving an 11-year-old boy in June and July of 1990. He was convicted on the charges in 2007, but the conviction was overturned in October 2008 by the 11th Court of Appeals.

In 2007 Teczar was sentenced by Judge Herod to three 25-year terms for the aggravated sexual assault indictments and a 15-year term for indecency. This time he elected to have the jury set his punishment.

Thomason was assisted by Brenda Gray, the district attorney for Stephens and Young counties, who prosecuted the case two years ago.

"She came back because she wanted to do this," Thomason said.

Gray questioned Teczar when he took the stand in his own defense Friday. During questioning, Teczar denied knowing the victim but later admitted in court that he had been accused of sexual abuse of children at least seven times in Texas and in Massachusetts. Teczar also admitted under oath that he has undergone treatment several times for his problems, Thomason said.

After sentencing, Teczar was allowed to visit with his brother Edward Teczar, of Arlington, before being led away in handcuffs. He was taken to the Eastland County Jail, where he will remain until he is moved to prison.

The victim, who is now 30, testified during the trial that Teczar sexually assaulted him on three occasions after showing him pornography and plying him with marijuana and alcohol.

During closing arguments, as the victim and his family looked on, Thomason pointed to the priest and called Teczar a "wolf in sheep's clothing" and a "pedophile."

Defense attorney Robin Norris tried to play down the charges against Teczar, suggesting the victim was seeking a monetary settlement with the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. The victim received $2.7 million from a lawsuit, court records show.

Teczar served as a priest in the Worcester, Mass., diocese until he was kicked out in 1986 on allegations of misconduct with boys. He was a visiting priest in the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth from 1988 to 1993 and served in several parishes, including St. Rita's Catholic Church in Ranger, where the 11-year-old was abused in 1991. He also served in Catholic parishes in Cisco, Strawn and Tarrant County, according to testimony in the case.

According to officials at the Fort Worth diocese, Teczar is still a permanent member of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., which has asked the Vatican to remove Teczar from the priesthood.


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