One Year Later: More Catholic clergy accused of child sex abuse in Texas

Investigations

Investigative Summary:

In 2019, all Roman Catholic dioceses in Texas had released their lists of priests “credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.” The lists do not indicate those individuals who were charged or convicted of any crimes, though the names spanned nearly 70 years, joining a growing number of allegations against clergy nationwide. KXAN spoke with accusers, police and state leaders to investigate the system for reporting abuse against children. But one year later, very few additional accusers have come forward, as KXAN discovered the church’s lists were incomplete, sometimes misleading and even wrong.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas’ 15 Catholic dioceses released names of 286 clergy — priests, deacons and brothers — credibly accused of child sex abuse one year ago Friday.

We reported on Austin’s 22 names, too. But, there’s more.

An extensive KXAN Investigates analysis of Catholic directories obtained through a source found that there are at least 332 Catholic clergy members, mostly priests, accused of child sex abuse in Texas.

That’s almost 50 more names than what was publicly released in 2019. Moreover, the church’s list was incomplete, with some clergy members still being shuffled within the church. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, even pointed to our investigation as uncovering “incomplete” lists.

  • KXAN investigator Jody Barr went to Victoria, Texas, to try to track down an accused priest, under investigation but not on any released list, who cannot be accounted for. The accuser in the case claims she was touched during confession as a 10-year-old. Now, the accuser’s mother has filed a police report. The diocese there won’t comment on particulars of the case or share where he is now.
  • KXAN investigator Avery Travis called District Attorney offices across the state, trying to find new charges filed against Catholic clergy. Only three counties prosecuted clergy across the state in the last year: El Paso County, Parmer County and Edwards County. Locally, in Travis County, District Attorney Margaret Moore told KXAN that no new complaints have been filed since the release of last year’s list.

How we found more names

Accused priests law enforcement check
The blue counties represent the dozens of District Attorney’s offices KXAN contacted to see if any cases have been prosecuted in the last year. (KXAN Image)

While cross-checking names of clergy on our master list using Catholic directories, we also found names of clergy credibly accused on non-Diocese lists, several of whom served in Texas.

For example, the Jesuits, a religious order of the Catholic Church, had multiple names that were added to our list after we cross-checked them as well.

We also checked names from the Legionaries of Christ, a congregation of Catholic priests; Glenmary Home Missioners, a Catholic institute; the Congregation of Holy Cross, a Catholic congregation; and Paulist Fathers, a Catholic society.

Here are a few of the names we found of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse that were not originally on Texas lists:

  • Clause P. Boudreax: A Jesuit, he was ordained in 1955 and died in 2016. His Texas assignments included Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso and Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas.
  • Thomas J. Naughton: A Jesuit, he was ordained in 1965 and died in 2012. His Texas assignments included Jesuit High School in El Paso and both the Jesuit College Preparatory School and Montserrat Retreat House in Dallas.
  • Archibald McDowelld: With the Congregation of Holy Cross, he was ordained in 1933 and died in 1994. His assignments included St. Edward’s University.
  • Edgar Szymanski: With the Congregation of Holy Cross, he was ordained in 1943 and died in 1998. His assignments included St. Edward’s University.
KXAN investigators look through Catholic directories. (KXAN Photo/Josh Hinkle)

More lawsuits arise

KXAN investigators also found at least 13 lawsuits — 10 from accusers and three from priests — filed against dioceses across the state since the original list of names published in January 2019.

In Nueces County, several priests are suing the Diocese of Corpus Christi and Bishop William Michael Mulvey for defamation because their names were published on the original list.

According to the lawsuits, the publication of the list falsely charged each priest “with being credibly accused of a crime under Texas law, of sexual impropriety, and of being unworthy of his calling as a priest.”

Attorney Andrew Greenwell, who’s representing the priests, recalls Bishop Mulvey telling one of his clients, Father John Feminelli, that “your last Mass is on Monday,” before he was put on the list.

“We were aware they were going to be included,” Greenwell said. “He refused to let us look at the evidence.”

The Diocese of Corpus Christi declined to comment due to the pending litigation.

Austin Diocese responds

While KXAN’s research covers all 15 of Texas’ dioceses, we sat down with Austin Diocese leaders Wednesday for an off-camera meeting.

Last year, Austin Bishop Joe S. Vásquez specifically told us that “we’re going to do everything possible to be able to maintain that trust” if more accusations are brought forth.

Bishop Joe Vasquez (KXAN Photo)
Bishop Joe Vasquez (KXAN Photo)

The Austin Diocese said it left off names because those clergy appear on other lists specific to their brotherhoods, and it did not want to duplicate names and throw off the overall number of accused priests. The Diocese also said it did this so the overall number of accused priests would be accurate, and to avoid duplicate names.

As for not releasing time frames of priest assignments, the Diocese of Austin said it chose to include information that was consistent with lists other dioceses released. Moreover, some of the alleged abuse happened in smaller churches, and there were concerns by the diocese that sharing dates could potentially identify victims.

In some of these cases, the Diocese claims the accuser asked them to not disclose the dates.

While the Diocese says there have been no new claims of child sex abuse, that doesn’t mean adults haven’t come forward with allegations. However, the Diocese isn’t required to disclose adult cases, or even report them to law enforcement. That’s up to their discretion and includes adults coming forward for alleged sex abuse that occurred when they were a child.

When deciding whether to report it to law enforcement, the Diocese looks at whether or not the clergy member still works around children.

Finally, the Diocese said it offers counseling to adult accusers and encourages them to report what happened to law enforcement.

Investigative Producer David Barer, Investigative Reporter Jody Barr, Investigative Reporter Erin Cargile, Investigative Reporter Kevin Clark, Photojournalist Ben Friberg, Graphic Artist Rachel Garza, Digital Reporter and Marketing Producer Eric Henrikson, Director of Investigations & Innovation Josh Hinkle, Photojournalist Chris Nelson, Photojournalist Juan Salinas, Special Projects Developer Robert Sims, Investigative Reporter Avery Travis and Digital Executive Producer Kate Winkle contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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