Man Sues Texas Diocese for Hiring Rev. Teczar

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
April 15, 2003

A civil suit has been filed in Texas by a 27-year-old man who said he was sexually abused in the early 1990s by the Rev. Thomas H. Teczar, a priest of the Worcester Catholic Diocese who relocated to Ranger, Texas.

Tahira Khan Merritt, a Dallas lawyer who filed the case in Tarrant County District Court, said the "$24 million question" is why Bishop Joseph P. Delaney of the Fort Worth diocese took Rev. Teczar into the diocese in 1988 when he had been clearly warned by Worcester diocesan officials of potential liability.According to the lawsuit, Bishop Delaney signed an agreement absolving the late Bishop Timothy J. Harrington of the Worcester diocese from responsibility for Rev. Teczar's conduct while in Texas.

Ms. Merritt said her client is listed only as John Doe. She said he was abused by Rev. Teczar in the early 1990s in Ranger.

Ms. Merritt, who has specialized in sexual abuse cases for more than 10 years, said she has "uncovered a long trail of evidence that proves that Bishop Delaney was fully aware of the risks and dangers involved in appointing Father Teczar to serve in the Fort Worth diocese.

"Despite the overwhelming evidence that Teczar was a dangerous sexual predator toward young boys, Bishop Delaney appointed him to serve in the Fort Worth diocese, eventually promoting Teczar to the position of pastor at St. Rita's Church in Ranger, Texas, where he served from 1990 to 1993," she said.

Rev. Teczar left the state in 1993 with the knowledge of Bishop Delaney, Ms. Merritt said. She said he left "under a cloud of suspicion after being implicated in a police investigation involving two of his companions who had also sexually assaulted minor boys in the Ranger area."

Ms. Merritt said her client has no connection to another man who alleged sexual abuse by Rev. Teczar, accusations that led to attempts by Texas law enforcement officials to extradite him back to that state. "This is not connected at all," she said.

Rev. Teczar, who now lives in Dudley, is free on bail after Texas served a fugitive-from-justice warrant on him in Dudley in December. He was arrested again on a governor's warrant from Texas regarding the same issue in March.

Rev. Teczar was ordained in the Worcester diocese in 1967 but was placed on leave by Bishop Harrington in 1986. He is still a priest but cannot exercise his priestly functions.

According to the suit, the late Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan was asked about Rev. Teczar's fitness to become a seminarian by the dean of Catholic University of America.

Bishop Flanagan warned of Rev. Teczar's "predilection for intimate and rather exclusive companionship with young boys," according to the suit.

The suit also alleges that Rev. Teczar was asked to leave St. Mary's in Uxbridge after being charged with giving alcohol to a minor and sexually molesting him and later went to a parish in Leicester. He went for treatment at the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville from 1974 to 1975, according to the suit. It says the treatment was because of "difficulties" encountered in Leicester.

He was assigned in 1984 to Sacred Heart in Gardner, where he was accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy after giving him alcohol. "The minor's parents threatened to sue the bishop if he did not act responsibly," the suit said.

Rev. Teczar was sent back to the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville and was given a psychiatric evaluation in Hopedale. The suit said Rev. Teczar spent another 10 months of treatment at the House of Affirmation center in California, and another treatment center not named.

The priest was then assigned to another parish in the diocese, but Bishop Harrington asked him to resign in 1984 because of "grave concerns" raised in the House of Affirmation report.

The suit states that Rev. Teczar applied for a position in the Norwich, Conn., diocese but was turned down by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, who is now Worcester's bishop. A diocesan official told Bishop Reilly that Rev. Teczar had left "a trail of damaged youngsters," according to the suit. Bishop Harrington told Rev. Teczar in 1986 that he would have a hard time getting a new appointment elsewhere because "the liability is so great," according to the suit.

The Fort Worth diocese sent Rev. Teczar to St. Luke's Institute in Suitland, Md., for treatment in 1993 and he subsequently returned to the Worcester area.

A call to the Fort Worth diocese seeking comment was not immediately returned.


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