Brownsville Man at Center of Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal

By Mary Avila
Valley Central
December 15, 2010

[with video]

Two former members of the Knights of Columbus youth group have come forward claiming they were sexually abused and even given drugs by their youth leader.

For over 30 years, Hector Stone said he held back a gruesome secret.

"I was going to take this to my grave, Julian Rivera sexually abused me for 6 years from the ages of 12-18 years old," said Stone.

Hector Stone, now 42 years old, said his childhood as a member of the Catholic fraternity Knights of Columbus Brownsville Circle of the Columbian Squires was anything but holy.

"He started showing pornography and then on a fishing trip he had taken me to the beach where he had given me alcohol and drugs and he sexually abused me."

Stone alleged Juan Julian Rivera, a former youth leader of the group abused him and several other boys between the 1970s and 80s and threatened to kill him if he spoke out.

After years of living in silence, Wednesday morning Stone and his lawyer presented a lawsuit against the knights of Columbus.

"In 1986 he made a complaint and he contacted some of the officers at the knights of Columbus to try and get some help and stop this from happenings to other boys," said Jeffrey Herman Stone's Lawyer. "He was shut down."

They claimed the organization was negligent and did nothing about the allegations.

A statement the Knights of Columbus strongly denied.

"That case first came to our attention not in the mid 1980's but one year ago December of 2009," said Patrick Korten, Senior Vice President of the Knights of Columbus. "It was a case that we acted on immediately, we removed the former knight of Columbus --now former knight of Columbus from any post having to do with children."

The Knights Of Columbus issued the following statement in the case:

Knights of Columbus denies lawsuit allegations

The Knights of Columbus vigorously denies allegations made in a pair of lawsuits filed by a Florida trial lawyer in federal court today.

"Although we have not yet been served with the lawsuits, we have obtained and reviewed copies of the complaints, and we emphatically deny the allegations that have been made," spokesman Patrick Korten said.

"The allegations date back to the 1970s and 1980s and involve a former member of the Knights of Columbus in Brownsville, Texas named Julian Rivera," Korten continued. "We first became aware of allegations of sexual abuse against him only one year ago, in December 2009. We acted immediately, removing him from any responsibility involving youth programs, and referring the case to Brownsville law enforcement authorities."

Rivera terminated his membership in the Knights of Columbus in January 2010.

In 2003, the Knights of Columbus formalized its policies involving youth activities in its "Youth Protection Program," which describes in considerable detail the organization's policies designed to protect children from any form of abuse. It admonishes Knights to act "not only in the most honorable and respectful manner toward children," but to be "alert at all times to any type of inappropriate activity that may be directed at

a child by others." Knights, it says, must "avoid even the appearance of any impropriety." A complete PDF version of the document may be found at:

In addition, every Knight who agrees to serve as a youth leader must undergo a background check every three years.

"The safety and well-being of the youngsters involved in our Columbian Squires program and all other youth activities of the Knights of Columbus are among our highest priorities, and are at the heart of our approach to helping young Catholics become faithful and responsible citizens and future leaders of the church," Korten concluded.

As of last June 30, there were 27,983 Columbian Squires in 1,483 Squires Circles. The order also sponsors a number of other youth activities, including its annual free throw competition and Soccer Challenge programs as well as local council-sponsored activities.

Korten told us, this is the only case the group has ever heard of and said after the discovery was made last year, they quickly took action and turned the investigation against Rivera over to Brownsville Police.

Rivera is no longer with the Knights of Columbus organization but still lives in Brownsville, Texas.

Action 4 News went looking for Rivera at his home, while there Rivera quickly drove by and said, "Don't believe everything you hear."

In speaking to neighbors in the area, they told us it wasn't unusual to see young men frequent his home.

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