March 23, 2005

Judge declines to dismiss case on Rev. Teczar

Telegram & Gazette


A Texas judge yesterday denied a request from the Catholic Dioceses of Worcester and Fort Worth, Texas, to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two men who allege they were sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas H. Teczar when they were teenagers.

Judge Len Wade also denied the dioceses’ request to exclude two forensic psychologists who will testify on behalf of John Doe I and John Doe II, the names assigned to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The psychologists, John Daigneault of Braintree, and Rycke Marshall of Dallas, will be allowed to testify.

The judge issued a short ruling yesterday in Tarrant County District Court in Fort Worth.

Tahira Khan Merritt, lawyer for John Doe II, said yesterday that a mediation session is scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow with a court-appointed mediator at Los Colinas, which is near Irving, Texas. Worcester Bishop Robert J. McManus and retired Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger will participate in the meeting via telephone. James Gavin Reardon Jr., lawyer for the Worcester Diocese, said he will be at the mediation session.

Unless a settlement is reached, the case is scheduled for a jury trial in Texas July 25, Ms. Khan Merritt said. Ms. Khan Merritt is the lead lawyer in the case. John Doe I is represented by Daniel J. Shea of Houston, who also will be at the mediation session.

Ms. Khan Merritt said she was pleased with the judge’s decision “because it will give a Fort Worth jury an opportunity to hear what these men have to say.” In her response to the motion from the two dioceses to dismiss the lawsuit, she maintained that Rev. Teczar had an “egregious pattern of sexual abuse” and that there was an “equally disturbing pattern of denial and cover-up by the Worcester and Fort Worth” dioceses.

Ms. Khan Merritt said she telephoned families of several alleged victims of Rev. Teczar in the Worcester area about the judge’s ruling.

Mr. Shea said he is encouraged that the lawsuit will go forward “without any other delays.” He said he believed Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley of the Boston Archdiocese acted correctly when he stopped using services of the lawyers who had been representing the archdiocese and insurance companies, hired his own lawyer and settled the cases in Boston.

“It’s what should be happened here,” he Mr. Shea said. Mr. Reardon said yesterday that the judge’s ruling did not specify his reasoning, but he noted that Texas law historically has “not been kind” to repressed memory cases. John Doe II allegedly repressed or suppressed memory of sexual abuse and began remembering later.

Rev. Teczar said in a recent interview that he never met John Doe II and knew John Doe I only from a gas station in Ranger, Texas, which was near a parish in which he served as priest. He has denied that he abused either of the men. Both Mr. Daigneault and Ms. Marshall have experience with repressed and suppressed memory clients, Ms. Khan Merritt said.

According to Ms. Khan Merritt’s court filing, John Doe II began remembering in 2002 during a time when David A. Lewcon, now of Uxbridge, contacted him and his mother to say that Rev. Teczar had sexually abused him and other minors while he was a priest in Texas.

Rev. Teczar’s authorization to function as a priest was removed in 1986 by Bishop Timothy J. Harrington and again removed in 1990, Mr. Reardon said. “He had no permission to function as a priest anywhere,” Mr. Reardon said.

Rev. Teczar was a priest incardinated into the Worcester Diocese, which means he was under care and supervision of the Worcester bishop, and the priest’s “treatment history” was provided to the Fort Worth Diocese before he went to Texas, Mr. Reardon said. “He did not have the permission of the Diocese of Worcester to be practicing as a priest,” he said.

In the case, the Fort Worth Diocese is represented by lawyer James G. Bennett of Fort Worth, and the Worcester Diocese and Auxiliary Bishop Rueger are represented by lawyer Mark D. Hatten, also of Fort Worth.

The civil lawsuit names the Worcester and Fort Worth dioceses, Bishop Joseph P. Delaney of Fort Worth, Bishop Rueger and Rev. Teczar.

The dioceses attempted to have the suit dismissed because of the statute of limitations. Ms. Khan Merritt maintained that the dioceses acted in tandem to remove Rev. Teczar from Worcester after allegations of sexual misconduct arose in Massachusetts and move him to Texas.

Posted by kshaw at March 23, 2005 07:00 AM