Serial Molester's Victim Settles with Fort Worth Diocese

By Darren Barbee
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
June 28, 2011

An Arlington man who said he was abused by notorious molester Monsignor James Reilly has settled out of court with the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The abuse began in 1971, when the man was a 10-year-old altar boy at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Arlington, and it continued to 1976, said his attorney, Tahira Khan Merritt of Dallas. He was referred to by his attorneys as Doe 23 -- the number of Reilly's accusers with whom Merritt has dealt.

Bishop Kevin Vann, leader of the diocese, said he will address any charge of abuse as quickly and as pastorally as possible.

"I am committed to ensuring that the diocese's policies are adhered to so we can prevent future tragedy such as that which has befallen the victims of abuse," he said in a written statement.

Vann said he is deeply sorry for any sexual abuse the victim may have endured and suffered by Reilly. He further stated that such actions are a sin and a crime.

Merritt, however, strongly criticized the diocese, saying its officials were interested in "preserving their secrets." She urged victims to go to law enforcement rather than the church.

"In my experience, having handled all these cases ... their motivation is to protect their assets and perpetrator priests and not the interest of the victims."

The diocese said it has actively sought victims of abuse in the Arlington parish where Reilly was assigned. Reilly was at St. Maria Goretti from 1969-87, retired in 1987, and moved to Philadelphia. He died in 1999.

Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126 or


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