84ºF

Man who accused Conroe priest of molesting him as a child speaks

CONROE, Texas – A victim who said he was abused by the Rev. Manual La Rosa-Lopez is speaking out about what happened to him.

In order to protect his privacy we are calling this victim JH.

JH said he was 14 when La Rosa-Lopez began abusing him. At the time, the priest was at Sacred Heart Church in Conroe. JH said he was abused from the late 1990's to 2001.

“It started crossing certain lines of appropriateness -- from it being touches and then kisses to the point of, like, forcing himself on me,” JH said.

JH, who is now 34, said he met with Cardinal DiNardo in August to discuss what happened to him and was surprised at the cardinal's response. “Part of that interview, which at the end which really irked me, which was like a punch in my side, was his comment, 'You should've told us earlier',” said JH.

The archdiocese said DiNardo went on to say, “’I am not blaming you. I just hate that this happened.’”

JH said he then asked the cardinal if he was aware of any other victims of La Rosa-Lopez. “In that interview, he basically was telling me, 'No nothing happened. I was like, in the back of my head, 'You're lying to me right now',” said JH.

Court documents state that there was another accuser - a woman who said that she met with DiNardo in 2010 to discuss abuse by La Rosa-Lopez. The woman said it happened at the same Conroe church during the late 1990's.

The Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston said that a witness in the room at the time JH met with the cardinal emphatically said that the cardinal did not say there were no other potential victims. The church has released its own guidelines for addressing claims of clergy abuse, which include reporting the incident to Child Protective Services.

The archdiocese told KPRC on Thursday that the meeting with the cardinal happened on a Friday and that the archdiocese reported the abuse to CPS on a Monday.

KPRC was provided with a case number. As for JH, he says he did not hear back from the church, so he called Conroe police.

He was surprised to learn another woman had also alleged that La Rosa-Lopez molested her at Sacred Heart Church during those same years.

“Currently, what is shocking to me right now is that there's not more people coming out,” he said.

La Rosa-Lopez is accused of four counts of indecency with a child and was released Thursday on a $375,000 bond. The archdiocese said that, when the allegations were made, La Rosa-Lopez was removed from the parish and rectory of his current church -- St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Richmond -- and will not be returning there.