Ex-Omaha Priest Accused of Abuse

By Bob Glissmann
April 20, 2010

A former Omaha priest, the Rev. John M. Fiala, has been accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Archdiocese of Omaha said Tuesday.

The abuse is alleged to have occurred in 2007-2008 when Fiala was serving at a parish in Rocksprings, Texas, which is in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The San Antonio Express-News reported that Fiala is the subject of a civil lawsuit and criminal investigation.

The newspaper reported that Fiala, 51, is accused in the lawsuit of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy at gunpoint and during private catechism sessions two years ago.

The suit, the paper reported, claims that Fiala repeatedly assaulted the youth from January to August 2008 while Fiala was working as administrator at Sacred Heart of Mary in Rocksprings. The alleged victim, who last fall turned 18 and is unnamed in the suit, was a member of the parish, the paper said.

In a statement dated April 8, the Archdiocese of San Antonio said it received a complaint of "interference in the custody of a minor" against Fiala in the fall of 2008. This resulted in the removal of Fiala from ministry there.

The Archdiocese of San Antonio said in a statement on its Web site that it has been working with the Edwards County (Texas) Sheriff's Office during its investigation.

Fiala was ordained in 1984 by Archbishop Daniel Sheehan, the Rev. Joseph Taphorn, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha, said in a statement. Fiala ministered in the archdiocese until 1996, when he left to join the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, a society of apostolic life in Texas.

Taphorn said Fiala served at these parishes in the Archdiocese of Omaha between 1984 and 1995: St. Columbkille, Papillion; Sacred Heart, Norfolk; St. Joan of Arc, Omaha; St. Peter, Omaha; Christ the King, Omaha; St. Mary, Spencer; and St. Joseph, Wisner.

The Archdiocese of Omaha said an official with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity confirmed that Fiala was removed from ministry in the fall of 2008 and has not been reassigned.

In the spring of 2002, the Archdiocese of Omaha said, it received a complaint that Fiala made sexual advances against a minor sometime in the mid-1980s. The minor purportedly refused the advances, the archdiocese said.

The archdiocese said it notified the Sarpy County attorney and Fiala's religious superior in Texas, as well as the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, where Fiala was serving at the time. The Archdiocese of Omaha said that officials are unaware of any criminal or civil charges being filed in connection with that report.

The statement from the Archdiocese of Omaha said officials are committed to "serving the needs of anyone who has been abused by any member of the clergy or church employee." Taphorn said victims should contact him at (402) 558-3100 or the archdiocese's victim assistance coordinator, Mary Beth Hanus, at (888) 808-9055, to report incidents of abuse.

Contact the writer: 444-1109,


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.