Man Sues Fort Worth Diocese without Knowing Name of Abuser

By Darren Barbee
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
June 1, 2011

The Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese is faced with an unusual sex abuse lawsuit: A man living in Brazoria County says he was abused by a priest but doesn't know the clergyman's name.

In a suit filed last week in Tarrant County, he accuses an assistant "perpetrator priest" of abusing him when he was about 10 in 1984 and 1985 after his catechism classes, altar training and serving at St. Brendan Catholic Church in Stephenville.

St. Brendan was home to one priest who was accused of repeated abuse of children, although his known accusers are female. The accuser, who is named John Doe in the suit, is himself in prison for sexual abuse.

The suit also names the Pallottine religious order as a defendant, as well as its U.S. superior, the Rev. Gerard Frawley.

Frawley, who leads the Irish Pallottines from Michigan, said he could not comment on the matter. He said the provincial head of the order in Dublin could address the allegations, although he was traveling Wednesday.

The diocese's attorney, John Crumley, said he hadn't seen the suit.

"We will defend ourselves," he said. "It's difficult when you don't know who is involved."

Lori Watson, the man's attorney, said the diocese and the Pallottines have not provided photos of the priests who were assistants at the church during the mid-'80s. She sought pictures for more than a year, she said. The accuser has described the priest as dark-headed, lanky and then in his late 20s, she said.

The man told Watson that he couldn't remember names but could identify the priest from a photograph.

She said her client has been in prison for about 11 years for sexual abuse, she said.

"Unfortunately, he ended up abusing someone himself. ... It's not unusual in these kinds of cases," she said.

St. Brendan was home to the Rev. John Howlett, whose accusers were girls. Several women have come forward saying Howlett abused them. One said her abuse began when she was 9.

The diocese apparently learned of allegations against Howlett in the 1980s. It is unclear whether Howlett, who was sent to live under supervision in Ireland, is still alive.

Previously released diocese records do not indicate whether police were notified of the accusations.

Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126



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