Lawsuit Says Church Officials Covered up Sexual Abuse

By John Perera
My Fox Houston
November 9, 2010

A woman is filing a lawsuit alleging top Houston Catholic officials covered up for a priest she says sexually abusing her during the 1960s.

Guadalupe Gonzales, now 63, is suing the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese for fraud. She says the now-deceased Father Lawrence Peguero sexually molested her while she was still a parishioner at Our Lady of St. John Catholic Church.

The lawsuit alleges three counts of fraud committed by the diocese and seeks unspecified damages. She accuses church staff, in the lawsuit, to have known or should have known Peguero was a pedophile and to have known or should have known he was a danger to children.

The Archdiocese claims they did not know about Gonzalesí complaint of abuse until they received a letter naming Peguero as her abuser back in Spring 2010. The diocese says they reached out to Gonzales, offering counseling and pastoral support, while her allegations were being investigated. After doing so, the diocese received no further communication from Gonzales until the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday.

At the time the diocese sent out their press release, they claimed because they did not receive the lawsuit, they were unable to comment on specifics. They did say because Peguero died back in 2000 at the age of 79, it would be more difficult to investigate Gonzalesí accusations.

In July, four individuals filed lawsuits against the diocese claiming Peguero sexually abused them in the 1970s. Those lawsuits are still pending.

Peguero was ordained by the diocese in 1947. He served at parishes in Beaumont and Houston before retiring in 1993 at the age of 72, according to a statement from the diocese.


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