February 26, 2005

Teczar awaits ruling on psychologists

Telegram & Gazette

By Kathleen A. Shaw Telegram & Gazette Staff

A judge in Fort Worth, Texas, yesterday took under advisement testimony taken during the last two days on whether to accept as experts two clinical psychologists being called in a civil lawsuit against the Catholic dioceses of Worcester and Fort Worth and two bishops.

Judge Len Wade of the Tarrant County District Court in Fort Worth said he expects to rule on the expert witnesses within two weeks.

Two Texas men, listed as John Doe I and John Doe II, allege they were sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas H. Teczar, a priest of the Worcester diocese when he left Worcester in 1988 and took an assignment in the Fort Worth diocese. Khan Merritt, the lawyer for John Doe II, alleged in the lawsuit that the Worcester and Fort Worth dioceses conspired to get Rev. Teczar in and out of both dioceses after misconduct allegations were made.

Ms. Merritt of Dallas, the lead lawyer in the suit, wants to call John Daigneault of Braintree and Rycke Marshall of Dallas, both forensic clinical psychologists, to testify on behalf of the men bringing the suit. They believe it is possible for a victim of sexual abuse to repress memories of traumatic events.

Dr. Daigneault previously testified during a 2002 civil lawsuit brought by David A. Lewcon, now of Uxbridge, who also alleged sexual abuse by Rev. Teczar when he was assigned to St. Mary’s Church, Uxbridge, during the early 1970s.

The dioceses of Fort Worth and Worcester brought in Dr. Harrison G. Pope Jr., a psychiatrist from Boston, who told the court that he does not believe in repressed or suppressed memory.

Worcester Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger was named in the suit because it is alleged that he in 1988 asked Fort Worth Bishop Joseph P. Delaney to take Rev. Teczar into his diocese. Bishop Delaney is also named in the suit.

Rev. Teczar denies that he has ever met John Doe II and said he only knew John Doe I from the gas station in Ranger, Texas, where the man worked. Rev. Teczar was barred from priestly duties in 1986 by the late Bishop Timothy J. Harrington of Worcester, but he received permission to perform as a priest in the Fort Worth diocese by Bishop Delaney.

The judge yesterday opened a hearing into the dioceses’ request that the lawsuit be dismissed, and it will be continued in early March. The dioceses are arguing that the lawsuit is beyond the statute of limitations.

The Worcester diocese and Bishop Rueger are represented by Mark D. Hatten of Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller of Fort Worth, and the Fort Worth diocese and Bishop Delaney are represented by James G. Bennett of Bennett & Catania of Fort Worth. Neither lawyer has returned telephone calls seeking comment. Rev. Teczar is representing himself. John Doe I is represented by Daniel J. Shea of Houston.

Posted by kshaw at February 26, 2005 07:46 AM