AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin released the names of 22 clergy "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez said three of those cases have been referred to law enforcement.
After the list was released Thursday, Vasquez encouraged other child victims to call authorities, instead of just reporting their concerns to church leaders.
“Any cases that we saw that needed to be referred to the law enforcement, we referred them to the law enforcement," Vasquez said. "We say it again now to all possible victims, please go to the authorities and report these cases and then if you believe that we can help in some way in that process, then come to the church and we’ll also be helping.’
The three cases that have been referred to law enforcement all came to light after 2002. If more accusations are brought forth, he said additional names could be added to the list and, in some instances, turned over to law enforcement.
"That’s my promise as a bishop," he said. "We’re going to do everything possible to be able to maintain that trust, and the only way that happens is if we’re transparent and I think this is one evident way to be transparent, saying we’ve heard the victims."
The diocese hired an independent investigator who compiled the list after reviewing 70 years’ worth of files and recommending whose name should be released. Vasquez declined to name who the third party investigator was.
When KXAN asked if the diocese would turn over internal files to law enforcement if officials asked for them, he said, "if they ask for that, if this is what they’re going to do, you know those are particular issues I don’t know the situation, so it’s all hypothetical until it becomes real."
Below is the list of those members of the clergy and what we know about them so far. Their inclusion on this list does not mean they have been charged or convicted of any crimes. Four of the people below have been laicized, or barred from all priestly ministry:
- Aguilar, Ricardo: He was ordained in 1995 and removed from the ministry in 2011. He was laicized in 2017.
- Clogan, Paul M.: He was ordained in 1999 and died in 2012.
- Clogan was arrested in December 2005 at a Marble Falls movie theater, after allegations that he inappropriately grabbing a 16-year-old boy. The 2008 proceedings against him ended in a mistrial after a mix-up during jury selection. A second trial was scheduled for March 2009, but never happened. He was placed on probation in Travis County and was never convicted of indecency with a minor. He was 81 years old when he died.
- Delaney, Daniel Joseph: He was ordained in 1973 and died in 2008.
- Drinan, Daniel Michael: He was ordained in 1977, removed from the ministry in 2002, expelled in 2006 and laicized in 2014.
- “Former Claretian priest Dan Drinan was relieved of his duties at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Martindale and St. Michael Parish in Uhland in May 2002 in response to an allegation of inappropriate behavior with a minor,” according to a 2012 news release from the diocese. That same day, the diocese says they contacted the then-Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services and local law enforcement.
- Eggerling, Milton: He was ordained in 1954 and died in 2008.
- Faust, Claude: He was ordained in 1939 and died in 1973.
- Gallagher, James: He was ordained as a Deacon in 1984 and died in 2005.
- Garcia, Jim Castro (a/k/a Santiago): He was ordained in 2017 in the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica, after he was dismissed from seminary in Austin in 2011.
- Greenwell, James H.: He was ordained in 1954 and died in 2012.
- Hand, Jr., Chester Culver: He was ordained in 1986 and died in 2002.
- Kinder, Conrad: He was ordained in 1921 and died in 1978
- Krol, Michael Francis: He was ordained in 1945 and died in 1996.
- Muller, Gerald: He took his vows in 1946 and was removed from the ministry and restricted in 2017.
- He was a former teacher at St. Edward's University, who stopped teaching there in 2014, according to a letter the school sent Thursday. It said in 2017, the university found out about an incident with a 17-year-old student in 1986 and opened a Title IX investigation.
- A former student who requested to remain anonymous said Muller was "kind of a rock star" at St. Edwards and that she never heard anything negative about him. "He was very revered there, because he was one of the oldest professors. He has quite the past. Used to brag about his old teaching days in California where he taught celebrities."
- According to his blog, Muller taught high school in California and instructed celebrities like Mark Harmon, William Katt Jr. and Jerry Mathers. He also taught music history at St. Edward's and conducted choral groups throughout Austin.
- Nowery, C. Richard: He was ordained in 1968 and died in 2018.
- O'Connor, James R.: He was ordained in 1969, removed from the ministry in 2004 and laicized in 2018.
- Ozuna, Rafael Rendon: He was ordained as a Deacon in 2007, removed from the station in 2010 and laicized in 2013.
- Reyes, Longinus Juventius (a/k/a Lonnie): He was ordained in 1969 and was removed from the ministry and retired in 2004.
- He was removed from the ministry after he admitted to a bishop that he had sexual relations with two teenage girls in the 1970s while on duty in Austin. In 2004, Reyes said he regretted his behavior.
- Robles, Victor G.: He was ordained in 1986, removed from the ministry in 2002 and retired in 2009.
- Tijerina, Alberto Matta: He was ordained in 1980 and removed from the ministry in 1993.
- Waiches, Vincent: He was ordained in 1946 and died in 1995.
- Willemsen, Adrianus Johannes (a/k/a Andy, Andrew, Andre): He was ordained in 1954 and died in 2012.
- Wozniak, Louis J.: He was ordained in 1951, retired in 1999 and removed from the ministry in 2015.
Preparing for the list's release
For months, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office has fielded phone calls and emails from people across the state imploring him to conduct a full investigation into the Catholic Church and ensure allegations of sexual abuse against children are properly handled.
As the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin prepared to release the names of clergy who it believes sexually abused children within the last 68 years, KXAN has spent months investigating how allegations are handled by local and state leaders.
We obtained and reviewed 185 pages of letters from residents and churchgoers across the state, many of them enraged and some of them victims detailing abuse they say they suffered at their parishes.
“I am a survivor of sexual abuse by clergy. I know firsthand the pain and suffering experienced by those abused at the hands of clergy,” one man wrote in a letter to the Attorney General’s office. “The pain goes deeper than the sexual abuse itself. It not only involves the spiritual impacts, but also the undue stress associated with the discrediting and minimizing of the abuse by the Catholic Church.”
Despite letters like that one, the Attorney General’s office says it can’t investigative claims of abuse and encouraged victims or those aware of alleged sexual abuse to contact their local law enforcement agency.
“The way that Texas statute is set up, the attorney general's office does not have original jurisdiction on these criminal matters such as the issues facing the church,” said agency spokesperson Marc Rylander. “We have to rely on local district attorneys from the 254 counties in our state to either refer the case to us or ask for our assistance.”
The Austin Police Department said it is not working any clergy abuse cases involving children, but victims in Austin should call 911 to file a report. The Travis County District Attorney’s Office also told KXAN unless it is reported to law enforcement, the office doesn’t plan to work with the diocese to investigate any allegations of sexual abuse against children.
Bringing the names of accused priests to light
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops said in October that all 15 dioceses in Texas would review their files and compile a comprehensive list of every clergy – including any bishops, priests and deacons – who have been “credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.”
The lists, which must be released by Thursday, do not mean those individuals have been charged or convicted of any crimes and do not verify guilt.
Last fall, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez told KXAN it would seek outside resources to ensure the investigation is thorough and that the names on the list are accurate. The Austin diocese spans 25 Central Texas counties and includes nearly 130 parishes and 21 Catholic schools.
“With the help of our attorneys, we’re going to get an outside investigator to come in, an independent investigator, who will come in and review our files and then say ‘Here are the files you should report,’” Vásquez said.
Despite releasing names now, some critics say any allegations of abuse found during the dioceses’ investigation should have been reported to law enforcement as soon as the church learned of them. No one, including clergy, counselors and therapists, is exempt from reporting suspected child abuse to law enforcement or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, according to DFPS spokesperson Stephen Black.
“The Texas Family Code is very specific about this,” Black said. “It even mentions attorneys and clergy specifically, as in what may otherwise be privileged information, there's no exception. You must report.”
DFPS also said anyone who reports abuse in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability and the state agency will keep the name of the reporter confidential. Not reporting could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge.
There are 1,320 Catholic parishes and 8.5 million Catholics statewide, according to the TCCB.
So far, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth is the only one in Texas that has already released a list of clergy who credibly sexually abused children. It first published the list in 2007 and has been updating it ever since. That list currently has 17 names with allegations dating back to 1969, when the Fort Worth diocese was first established.
Vásquez said releasing the names is a way for bishops to acknowledge they have heard the concerns of their parishioners and are responding to those needs. He also hopes it will help survivors in the healing process.
“When people come to see their priest, they should feel safe,” he said. “It is their home. It is a place where they should feel comfort.”
Still, Thursday’s lists only include those credibly accused of abusing children, not adults, meaning the full scope of allegations against church leaders could be unclear.
In November, six women filed a lawsuit against a local priest, bishop and the Austin diocese alleging they were sexually assaulted by a priest who would corner women in the confessional and grope them. The women say they didn’t report it to law enforcement, thinking the church’s Ethics in Ministry would take appropriate action. They were disappointed by the response.
“The Church has always been my home. It's always been my safe place. It's the place I go to when I'm struggling. It's the place I go to when I want answers. It's the place I go to when I want to be vulnerable to God and allow him to work in my life,” one of the women said in an exclusive interview with KXAN. “Now that has been taken away from me and I don't know where to go anymore.”
In a court filing in Travis County District Court, the diocese denied the lawsuit’s allegations. On Jan. 15, the diocese filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit altogether, arguing that because the church is a religious institution, the civil court has no authority to demand that the church institutes policy changes concerning sexual abuse claims.
Calls for Attorney General investigation
Dozens of those who reached out to the Texas Attorney General called on the state to follow Pennsylvania’s recent example by conducting an independent investigation separate from the church and to employ subpoena authority to gain access to church files that could detail alleged abuse.
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania’s two-year investigation ended last summer and included reviewing more than 500,000 pages of internal diocesan documents, according to a grand jury report published in July. They found credible allegations against more than 300 priests and more than 1,000 child victims who were identified using the church’s own records.
“The pattern was pretty much the same. The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid ‘scandal.’ That is not our word, but theirs; it appears over and over again in the documents we recovered,” according to the Pennsylvania grand jury report. “Abuse complaints were kept locked up in a ‘secret archive.’”
Some of the alleged abusers named in that report had ties to Texas, including Father Edward R. Graff, who served for years in Pennsylvania despite knowledge of “some type of sexual conduct with a minor,” the report says.
Graff later served in New Mexico and Texas and was arrested in 2002 in Briscoe County, Texas, for alleged sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy. He died nearly two months later “due to injuries from an accident” while awaiting trial, the grand jury report states.
Two years later, in 2004, a longtime Catholic priest was removed from the ministry after he admitted to a bishop that he had sexual relations with two teenage girls in the 1970s while on duty in Austin. At the time, Father Lonnie Reyes said he regretted his behavior. His name was on Thursday's list.
A few other names could be on the list as Bishop Vásquez previously said there have been three cases involving sexual abuse of a child in the Central Texas area within the last 15 years, according to an interview in the September 2018 edition of the dioceses’ “Catholic Spirit” newsletter.
In 2004, a deacon was convicted of indecent exposure with a child and later removed from the ministry, according to the newsletter. Then, in 2005, a priest who moved to the Austin diocese from another location was removed from the ministry after being charged with groping a minor. That case ended in a mistrial. The deacon and the priest from those two incidents have both since died.
The third incident occurred in 2011 when a deacon pleaded guilty to indecency with a child, according to the newsletter. The child was a family member and the deacon was permanently removed from the ministry.
Still, the list releasing some names, some Texans continue to call on the Attorney General to take more action.
“I was previously considering sending my children to Catholic school, but … that option now seems more and more unlikely,” a Fort Worth woman said in a letter to Paxton. “Please do your part to protect the children in our state and seek justice for the abused.”
What you need to know about how the Catholic Church works
The Roman Catholic Church is the oldest institution in the western world. According to tradition, the Catholic church was founded by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. Jesus himself appointed one of his 12 apostles, Peter, to be the first pope to lead the church after his death and resurrection.
Today, Pope Francis leads the Catholic church as the 266th pope.
The Pope appoints Cardinals and Bishops to lead the church in designated geographical areas around the world known as dioceses.
Texas has 15 dioceses.
Vásquez was installed as the 5th Bishop of the Diocese of Austin in 2010. There are 123 parishes and missions in the Austin Diocese which encompasses Travis and 24 surrounding counties. Those parishes serve approximately 600,000 Catholics in the diocese.
Vásquez assigns all priests and deacons within the diocese to individual churches. All diocesan Catholic clergy take a vow of obedience to their local bishop.
Funeral home customers to be repaid, following KXAN investigation
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hundreds of customers who lost thousands of dollars through prepaid funeral contracts with Peel and Son Funeral Home, Inc. will be repaid, following a KXAN investigation into the company’s illegal sale of those contracts.
KXAN first reported on the Peel and Son prepaid contracts in October of 2018 . The Texas Department of Banking had opened an investigation into the local funeral home business in August because its owner, Billy F. Peel, was illegally selling prepaid funeral benefit contracts. These actions were illegal because Peel wasn’t licensed to sell prepaid funeral contracts.
Peel collected more than $500,000 in prepaid funeral payments from nearly 250 customers, or about 235 contracts, since 2006, according to the department.Read the Full Article
- Copyright by KXAN - All rights reserved
KXAN investigations help Central Texans, prompt change at the Capitol
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas lawmakers filed more than 7,000 bills on topics across the board as of Friday, which was the 60-day deadline period for representatives and senators to submit proposed legislation during the 86th Legislature.
More than a dozen bills came after KXAN investigations into problems such as maternal mortality and morbidity statewide, harassment in the workplace and toll road drivers frustrated by what they say are “ridiculous” late fees and other billing issues.
For years, KXAN investigated concerns with toll roads, including in 2017 when the state’s tolling authority sent 2.2 million customers – some who say they were wrongfully billed – to a collections agency that levied nearly $1 billion in fees.Read the Full Article
- Copyright by KXAN - All rights reserved
TX Ethics Commission files $10K lawsuit against Dawnna Dukes
AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Ethics Commission is throwing the book at two people — a former member of the Texas House of Representatives and a man who wanted to be a member of the House.
The commission filed the lawsuits in Travis County against former House Democrat Dawnna Dukes and Republican candidate Clinton A. Bedsole of Frisco. The commission submitted evidence showing Dukes and Bedsole both failed to file their semi-annual campaign finance reports on time.
The commission wants the $10,000 in fines, plus "damages of any kind, penalties, costs, expenses, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees," according to the Dukes lawsuit. The commission is only asking for "monetary relief of $100,000 or less, and non-monetary relief in the form of a mandatory permanent injunction," the lawsuit shows.Read the Full Article
- Scooters at SXSW: high ridership, rule-breakers, and lessons learned
- Video shows CapMetro bus hit central Austin home after collision
- Is it really illegal to pick bluebonnets? Here's what the rules say
- Body found in Maserati after Austin officer-involved shooting
- UT Tower Girl lays first egg of 2019, giving conservationists hope
- Mothers Erased: Women nearly dying after birth not part of Texas stats