Priest Accused of Raping Texas Boy Arrested
Ranger to Seek Extradition of Man Held in Massachusetts

By Brooks Egerton
Dallas Morning News
December 14, 2002

Massachusetts police arrested a priest Friday on a charge of raping a 12-year-old boy in Texas, highlighting connections between New England's exploding clergy abuse scandal and the Southwest.

The Texas Ranger handling the investigation said he expects it to expand and hopes to extradite the Rev. Thomas Teczar, who remained jailed late Friday and has ignored previous interview requests. He pleaded not guilty at arraignment, where bail was set at $ 30,000 cash.

Father Teczar was one of two priests whom Fort Worth Catholic Bishop Joseph Delaney put in tiny rural parishes in the early 1990s after they were forced from ministry in the Northeast.

Father Teczar stayed on the job until 1993, when he hurriedly left the state while a grand jury was pursuing molestation charges against two young men who were friends of his.

"Hopefully, authorities are investigating the activities of the Fort Worth bishop, too," said Dallas attorney Sylvia Demarest, who has won several major clergy abuse lawsuits and represents the alleged rape victim.

Texas Ranger David Hullum declined to comment about Bishop Delaney but did say he was "continuing to investigate to see if any other persons should be charged."

The bishop's spokesman, Jeff Hensley, declined to comment Friday.

Bishop Delaney has given conflicting accounts of what he knew about Father Teczar's departure from Eastland County, at the western end of the 28-county Fort Worth Diocese.

In 1998, when The Dallas Morning News first reported on the matter, the bishop said he knew nothing about the 1993 investigation of the priest's friends and thought he returned to Massachusetts simply because he no longer wanted to work in Texas.

But shortly afterward, he said that Father Teczar had told him in 1993 that he had been accused of not reporting child sexual abuse and that Eastland County authorities had agreed to drop their investigation of him if he left the state.

County authorities have said that no such deal existed, that the priest had refused to answer questions from the grand jury and that the diocese would not cooperate in their investigation.

They also said Father Teczar, 61, encouraged one of his friends to destroy pornographic Polaroids of abuse victims. Both friends have been convicted of abuse and are serving long Texas prison terms; both have told The News that they had sex with the priest but never knew him to abuse minors.

No mention of abuse

Bishop Delaney, a former Massachusetts priest, made statements a few months ago that raised further questions. In a letter offering counseling to a young man from Eastland County who alleged that the priest had also molested him as a boy, the bishop said nothing about Father Teczar's long history of abuse before coming to Texas - something The News had detailed in 1998, citing diocesan personnel files surrendered in a Massachusetts lawsuit.

"Your complaint against him is the first that I know of that involves misconduct with a minor," Bishop Delaney wrote.

When asked for comment then, the bishop's spokesman declined even to hear specific questions. After The News wrote about the matter, the spokesman said the bishop had meant that the accuser was the first to come forward in Texas.

Ranger Hullum said he plans to meet soon with the accuser, Wade Driskill, who is jailed in Dallas County on theft charges.

Bishop Delaney has apologized for hiring Father Teczar and acknowledged that he did so despite knowing that he had been forced into a treatment center. He also has said he knew about a Massachusetts case accusing the priest of supplying alcohol to a boy and contributing to his delinquency, which ended with a conviction.

The bishop has said he hired Father Teczar without knowing about his Worcester, Mass., personnel file, which showed that he had been transferred from parish to parish there because of abuse allegations and had been kicked out of two seminaries before ordination. The file shows that other bishops to whom the priest applied were advised of his past.

Father Teczar was arrested shortly after midnight Friday at his home in Massachusetts, where he is barred from ministry. He appeared surprised but did not resist or respond to the allegation against him, said Dudley, Mass., police Officer Paul Ceppetelli. Officers took some items from the home, including a computer.

A man listed in court records as the priest's attorney did not respond to a phone message Friday.

Father Teczar is charged with raping the Texas 12-year-old once in 1990, but Ranger Hullum said the abuse continued beyond that point. Ms. Demarest said her client, who has not filed a lawsuit, lived near but did not attend Father Teczar's church in the town of Ranger, one of four the priest served.

Jury's findings

The Massachusetts lawsuit ended in October with a jury finding that Father Teczar abused a 16-year-old boy three decades ago but awarding no damages. The priest testified during the trial that he had provided liquor to a minor but denied molesting him.

"My heart goes out to the victims in Texas," said the plaintiff in the lawsuit, David Lewcon.

Father Teczar came to the Fort Worth Diocese about the same time that Bishop Delaney hired an old friend who had been accused of stealing from his Rhode Island parish and forced to resign. He kept the Rev. Philip Magaldi on duty after he was indicted for embezzlement and let him return to work after he pleaded guilty and served a short prison term.

Prosecutors said Father Magaldi spent some of the stolen money on vacations with adolescent boys, but they never charged him with abuse. In interviews with The News, the priest denied financial and sexual misconduct. Bishop Delaney no longer lets him have a public ministry.


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