Catholic Priest Who Had Worked in Kc Area Is Accused of Molesting Boy in Texas

By Judy Thomas
Kansas City Star
April 24, 2010

A former Kansas City area Catholic priest is the subject of a civil lawsuit and criminal investigation in Texas involving the alleged sexual abuse of a minor.

The Rev. John M. Fiala is accused of assaulting a 16-year-old boy at gunpoint and during private catechism classes in 2007 and 2008 while Fiala was a pastoral administrator at Sacred Heart of Mary parish in Rocksprings, Texas.

Fiala served in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas in 2001 and 2002 and was spiritual director from 1998 to 2001 at a religious order that had a house in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

In a statement issued this month, the Archdiocese of San Antonio said it had received a complaint alleging that Fiala had interfered in the custody of a minor in fall 2008.

"Since that time we have been working closely and in full cooperation with the Edwards County Sheriff's Department as they have conducted an ongoing investigation," the statement said.

Fiala, 51, has been removed from ministry in the Archdiocese of San Antonio and his religious order, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.

Officials in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said they received no complaints about Fiala when he was in the Kansas City area.

"He was in our archdiocese for just a very short time, about nine months," said Carroll Macke, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. "During that time there were no accusations or anything along that line."

Macke said Fiala was an associate pastor at St. Joseph's parish in Shawnee from Aug. 31, 2001, to January 2002. After that he helped at a parish in Holton, Kan., from January to April 2002, Macke said.

Macke said he didn't know why Fiala left.

Rebecca Summers, spokeswoman for the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, said Fiala did not work for the diocese.

"From August 1998 until mid-2001 he served as spiritual director to the SOLT (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) community, who maintain a religious house in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph," Summers said in an e-mail. "During that time period, Father Fiala had no parish assignment within our diocese."

Fiala also served in the Archdiocese of Omaha, according to a news release issued by the archdiocese. The statement said Fiala was ordained in the Omaha archdiocese in 1984 and left in 1996 to join the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.

The statement also said that in 2002 the Archdiocese of Omaha received a complaint that Fiala had made sexual advances toward a minor in the mid-1980s.

"The archdiocese 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 statement said. "The Archdiocese of Omaha is unaware of any criminal or civil charges being filed in connection with that report."

Macke said diocesan officials were looking into what happened after the Omaha archdiocese called about Fiala in 2002.

When asked whether the archdiocese would notify parishioners about the Texas allegations, Macke said: "We're discussing that."

According to the Texas lawsuit, the alleged victim was 16 and a member of the parish when he met Fiala in 2007. The priest gave the boy alcohol, money and expensive gifts, including a laptop computer, a cell phone and a car, the lawsuit said. Throughout 2008, Fiala sexually abused the boy during private catechism classes and on out-of-town trips twice at gunpoint according to the lawsuit. The boy became so distraught, the lawsuit said, that he ran away from home and tried to commit suicide.

The lawsuit said the Archdiocese of San Antonio and its archbishops "failed to disclose Fiala's pedophilic tendencies and instead misrepresented him as a celibate priest in good standing to his parishioners."

"Most disturbingly," the lawsuit said, "Fiala, like others of his ilk, was allowed to serve in various parishes as a priest in good standing following reports of his sexual abuse of minors."

Fiala could not be reached for comment.

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