Priest Accused of Molestation in Arlington Is Defrocked

By Darren Barbee
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
September 9, 2011

Rudolf J. Renteria, who was accused of molesting a 14-year-old Arlington boy while a priest, has been defrocked, the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese announced in its newspaper.

The man who accused Renteria settled his lawsuit with the diocese in July 2010. As part of the settlement, Bishop Kevin Vann was asked to petition the Vatican to return Renteria to lay status, said the man's attorney, Tahira Khan Merritt of Dallas.

Merritt said she was surprised that the diocese didn't inform the family when Renteria was defrocked in December.

Instead, Merritt told the family after seeing the small announcement this month. The family, which still lives in Arlington, was "thrilled, of course," she said. But "the bishop should have called them."

Vann was out of town Thursday and not available for comment. Diocese spokesman Pat Svacina said that Vann worked hard to get Renteria dismissed from the priesthood and that it was personally important to him.

He said the diocese tried to contact the family.

"We took steps to reach those folks and were not able to," he said. "The diocese always attempts to notify the victims in any kind of case like this."

Renteria will keep any pension benefits he has earned, but he will no longer receive health or other benefits from the diocese, Svacina said.

A state district court lawsuit accused Renteria of abusing the man, then 14, in the rectory at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Arlington on Mother's Day weekend 1981.

Renteria, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, denied the allegations.

The notice in North Texas Catholic said Renteria was dismissed from the clergy "and is released from all obligations of the Sacred Priesthood, including that of celibacy."

Vann petitioned for Renteria's laicization after the diocese "established that credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor existed against him."

According to the lawsuit, the boy spent the night at the rectory. There, Renteria fondled him and attempted intercourse, the suit says. A 2002 diocese news release describing an incident involving Renteria and a 14-year-old boy said the priest was unable to "confirm or deny the incident because of the influence of alcohol."

Merritt said then-Bishop Joseph P. Delaney transferred Renteria to parishes in Wichita Falls, Vernon, Lewisville and Fort Worth and "even promoted him to pastor despite the report that he had sexually abused a child." Renteria last served as a chaplain at St. Paul's Medical Center in Dallas. Delaney removed him in 2002.

Darren Barbee, 817-390-7126



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