Teczar Sex Abuse: Guilty Again

By Bronislaus B. Kush
Telegram & Gazette
March 27, 2009

Rev. Teczar

The Rev. Thomas H. Teczar, a Roman Catholic priest formerly from Worcester, has been found guilty for a second time of sexually molesting an 11-year-old boy in Texas almost 20 years ago.

Rev. Teczar had been convicted in Texas on March 7, 2007, of three counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of indecency with a child but the conviction was thrown out last fall by an appeals court, which ruled that state District Judge Steven Herod had made errors during the trial.

A new trial was ordered and the priest was found guilty yesterday on the same charges.

The case involved a 30-year-old man who charged that he was abused as a boy by the Rev. Teczar, when the priest was assigned to St. Rita’s Church in Ranger, Texas. The victim, who at the time lived across the street from the church rectory, had told authorities that he was enticed into having sex with threats and promises.

The re-trial began on Tuesday and the jury began deliberations early yesterday afternoon. Officials said it took the panel less than an hour to reach its decision.

In his first trial, Rev. Teczar chose to have the judge decide the verdict and sentence.

Alleged victims of the priest, along with organizations supporting individuals abused by clerics, lauded the jury for its action.

“It’s great that he’s been convicted,” said George “Skip” Shea of Uxbridge, who charged that he was abused by Rev. Teczar at St. Mary’s Church in Uxbridge during the 1970s. “But, then again, every time an abusive priest appears in the news it brings nightmares to victims. I’m especially concerned about those who haven’t come forward and have no one to turn to.”

Witnesses in the second trial included the victim and his mother, along with Daniel Hawley, who was involved in a homosexual relationship with Rev. Teczar in the early 1990s.

Mr. Hawley, now 46, is serving a 35-year sentence for also assaulting the victim, along with other children.

According to court testimony, the boy in Ranger was given marijuana and alcohol and was allowed to smoke cigarettes and to drive the priest’s Mercedes. The boy also went on boating trips with Rev. Teczar and went flying with the priest in a single-engine plane.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, praised Eastland County District Attorney Russ Thomason for pursuing the case.

Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s national outreach director, called Rev. Teczar “a dangerous predator” who deserved a long prison sentence.

“When predators are locked up, children are safe,” she said.

In the previous trial, the priest was sentenced to 25 years on each assault charge and 15 years on the indecency count. The terms were concurrent.

Officials said the court could now sentence Rev. Teczar, who is in his late 60s, to life imprisonment.

Last October, the three-member Court of Appeals for the 11th District in Eastland County threw out Rev. Teczar’s earlier conviction and ordered Judge Herod to hold a new trial.

Among the errors the panel noted was that the judge had allowed into evidence unsubstantiated charges that the priest had molested other children.

Rev. Teczar was set free after the appeal court’s ruling when he posted a $30,000 bond and agreed to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle.

Rev. Teczar had moved to Texas, where his brother lives, in the early 1980s after Worcester Bishop Timothy J. Harrington banned him from clerical duties after allegations surfaced that he had molested at least two local boys.

The priest was ordained by Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan in 1967.

Sexual abuse allegations were also later raised against the priest in Texas in 1993, five years after he began his ministerial duties with the Fort Worth Diocese.

Worcester Bishop Robert J. McManus has asked the Vatican to remove Rev. Teczar from the priesthood and, in a statement issued earlier this year, Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann has apologized to Rev. Teczar’s alleged victims.



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