March 29, 2005

Diocese says deal was never made on Teczar move

Telegram & Gazette


WORCESTER— In a letter sent to the priests of Catholic Diocese of Worcester, Bishop Robert J. McManus emphatically denies any agreement was made with the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, to allow the Rev. Thomas H. Teczar to take a position as priest in Texas.

Two men from Ranger, Texas, brought a civil suit in Fort Worth, Texas, alleging that the two dioceses conspired to move the priest from the Worcester Diocese to Fort Worth after allegations of sexual abuse arose in the local diocese.

In his letter to priests, which was sent Saturday andwas publicly posted at, Bishop McManus said both dioceses partially settled the lawsuit involving one of the alleged victims, but added that the Worcester Diocese will not pay any of the $1.4 million settlement because it had no responsibility for Rev. Teczar when he left the Worcester.

The bishop said the lawyers for the two alleged victims have maintained a “conspiracy” existed between the two dioceses. However, Bishop McManus said, such a conspiracy was impossible because the Worcester Diocese never agreed to Rev. Teczar’s ministry in Texas.

“The plaintiffs’ theory is based, among other things, on a Church-wide conspiracy among United States dioceses,” he said. “The plaintiffs’ attorney is determined to weave the facts of this particular matter into that theory whether the facts fit or not.”

Bishop McManus said that even though the Worcester Diocese revoked Rev. Teczar’s permission to function as a priest and never restored it, Bishop Joseph P. Delaney of Fort Worth authorized the priest to take an assignment in his diocese in 1988. According to Bishop McManus, former Worcester Bishop Timothy J. Harrington made it clear to Bishop Delaney that he did not give permission for Rev. Teczar to serve in Texas.

The identities of the two plaintiffs in the case have been sealed. The case of John Doe I, who was represented by Daniel J. Shea of Houston, was settled late Thursday night. Mr. Shea said he was told after the settlement was reached that indemnification existed between the two dioceses and the issue came up in the context of why Worcester was not going to pay any part of the settlement.

David A. Lewcon, of Uxbridge, an alleged victim of Rev. Teczar in the local diocese, said he found it disconcerting that the bishop “almost prides himself with the fact that nothing was paid out from Worcester. He never mentioned how much it cost the Catholic faithful paid in legal fees.” Mr. Lewcon has been active in various victim support and advocacy groups.

Tahira Khan Merritt of Dallas, lawyer for John Doe II, said that based on statements made by Bishop McManus in the Saturday letter to priests, she intends to call the bishop to Dallas to answer more questions under oath. She does not have to subpoena Bishop McManus since the diocese is a party to the suit.

The suit involving John Doe II was not settled and will go to trial in Fort Worth in July unless a settlement is reached. Ms. Khan Merritt could offer no explanation why one suit was settled and the other was not.

District Attorney Russ Thomason of Eastland County, Texas, said yesterday that Rev. Teczar still faces criminal charges of sexual abuse. That case will go to trial in Texas, but no date has been set yet, he said.

The district attorney said he is considering appointing Ms. Khan Merritt as a special prosecutor in the case because she is familiar with the situation and can assist with the prosecution. The criminal charges are in connection to alleged sexual abuse of John Doe II, who is Ms. Khan Merritt’s client. Mr. Thomason said such special appointments are regularly done in Texas.

Rev. Teczar, 64, who lives in Dudley, is currently free on $30,000 bail. He was arrested in Dudley in December 2002 on a warrant from Texas and again on a Texas governor’s warrant in March 2003. The charges are aggravated sexual assault of a child, which is a felony in Texas.

Posted by kshaw at March 29, 2005 05:58 AM