State of Texas: The Accused one year later

Accused Priests

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. Our extensive 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.

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.

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 us that no new complaints have been filed since the release of last year’s list.

Church members seek answers

Investigator Erin Cargile tracked down one Austin priest, Father Isidore Ndagizimana, who settled a lawsuit in 2019 with six women who accused him of sexual abuse. She found that “Father Izzy” is still part of the Diocese of Austin and is at a priest retirement facility in Central Texas. She talked to concerned church members who are demanding more transparency. She also found people are still pressing the Texas Attorney General – through calls and letters – to step in and investigate sexual abuse claims, even though state law does not allow him to do so.

While our research covers all 15 of Texas’ dioceses, we sat down with Austin Diocese leaders 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.

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.

Tracking an accused priest

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.

Police in Victoria are investigating the accusations. We are not naming the priest because he has not been charged, nor has the church put his name on any accused lists.

The diocese there won’t comment on particulars of the case or share where he is now.

An accuser’s story

Investigator Kevin Clark talked to an Ohio priest’s accuser, who claimed he was molested during study hall. He later moved to Austin and struggled with drugs as a result. The diocese in Ohio, facing a lawsuit from the alleged victim, has subpoenaed his treatment records.

A spokesperson with the diocese of Columbus told us in a statement that it’s their policy not to comment on a pending lawsuit.

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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