Several files seized in a raid by law enforcement agencies at a Catholic archdiocese office in Montgomery County also included ones for a Baytown priest, who was cleared of sexual abuse allegations by the church years ago.
A raid was conducted on the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s downtown office Nov. 27 in reference to a Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, a priest accused of allegedly sexually abusing children that went to a Conroe church. During the raid, files related to Rev. Terence Brinkman were also seized.
Brinkman is the pastor at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church on Baker Road in Baytown.
In 2010, a man, identified in court documents as “John Doe,” sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston claiming Brinkman allegedly molested him in the mid-1970s when he was a 12-year-old altar boy at St. Charles Borromeo in Houston.
However, Judge Kyle Carter in the 125th District Court threw out the case in November 2010 because the statute of limitations on the crime had expired. The Archdiocese allowed Brinkman to continue in active ministry.
However, between the law enforcement raid and a recent Houston TV news interview from the man claiming to be “John Doe” who continues to make his abuse claims against Brinkman, the case will seemingly get a second look.
Brinkman has always maintained his innocence and he continues to get the support of the church. Brinkman continues his work at his Baytown church.
“I cannot tell you that these events did not take place in John Doe’s life, but I was not the person who did them to him. I have never sexually abused any person, minor or adult. I believe and assert I was falsely accused,” said Brinkman.
Tyler Dunman, an assistant district attorney and chief of Special Crimes Bureau in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said investigators are going through all files obtained, and they will thoroughly reviewed by law enforcement. “If there is alleged criminal conduct discovered in any of the files, including Brinkman’s, we will pursue that as much as we can,” he said.
Dunman said over 35,000 documents were seized in the raid, not including electronic evidence on computers and other devices.
The raid was conducted by the Montgomery County DA’s office, Conroe police and the Texas Rangers.
“We have local, state and federal agencies working with us as we review these documents,” Dunman said. “Because of the volume, it will take some time for us to get through and review. But that is the stage we are in now, and we will make some decisions where we will go and what will occur once we get through with that process.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said authorities were looking for employment records and disciplinary records related to the Conroe priest, along with anything that might lead to the discovery of other potential crimes. “This is not a search warrant against the Catholic Church,” Ligon said, adding: “We’re going to go wherever the investigation requires us to go.”
The archdiocese issued a statement saying it was fully cooperating with the investigation.
In light or the claims resurfacing, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston released this statement on the matter:
“In July of 2010, a lawsuit was filed alleging that Father Terence Brinkman had sexually abused a minor during the 1970s. Prior to that lawsuit being filed, an attorney for the plaintiff, identified as ‘John Doe,’ had previously notified the Archdiocese of the alleged abuse in 2006 – over 30 years after he claims it occurred. In 2006 the Archdiocese reached out to Mr. Doe to gain more information. Through a succession of three attorneys representing Mr. Doe, he refused to address his allegations before the Archdiocesan Review Board. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed on a summary judgment motion in civil court.
“Mr. Doe also provided a physical description of the priest that allegedly abused him that does not match Father Brinkman.
“We are not aware what, if any, reporting Mr. Doe or his three separate attorneys made to law enforcement, but the parishioners of St. John the Evangelist, Father Brinkman’s parish, were notified of the allegation at the time.
“To our knowledge, Mr. Doe’s allegation is the only such complaint lodged against Father Brinkman in his 45 years as a priest.”
The U.S. Catholic church has been grappling with sex-abuse scandals for many years, but events this year have taken a heavy toll on the leadership’s credibility.
In August, a grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailed decades of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses, alleging more than 1,000 children had been abused over the years by about 300 priests. Since then, federal prosecutors and attorneys general in several other states have launched investigations.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese, said a newly formed sex-abuse task force is working on a national mechanism for publishing the names of clergy who face substantiated claims of abuse.