Second accuser speaks out after priest accused of sexual abuse
CONROE, Texas – Another alleged victim of Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez is speaking out.
The woman asked us to call her Ann and said the memory of what happened to her at Sacred Heart Church in Conroe from 1998 to 2001 is difficult to talk about.
Ann says the sexual abuse by La Rosa-Lopez started when she was 16.
About eight years ago, Ann says she saw La Rosa-Lopez’s face in a church newspaper, which made her reach out to church authorities for a meeting.
"When I saw his picture, I just thought to myself - me as someone who is part of this diocese that they know this has happened too? I shouldn't have to wonder if I'm going to run into him somewhere," said Ann.
Ann asked to meet with La Rosa-Lopez. The Galveston/Houston Archdiocese says that meeting happened in 2011.
"He cried,” said Ann. “He apologized. He acknowledged that it happened. He said, 'I am so sorry for what I've done to you.'"
Ann says she told La Rosa-Lopez of the guilt she felt.
"It has taken me this long to realize that you did this to me,” said Ann of her conversation with La Rosa-Lopez.
“You are responsible for me feeling this way all of this time. It destroyed me and I have brought myself back up."
In a statement earlier this week, the Galveston/Houston Archdiocese stated in 2011 La Rosa-Lopez denied Ann's claims.
On Friday, a different statement revealed the 2011 meeting:
“There were four meetings held between 2010-2011. Cardinal DiNardo and Father Manuel were both present at the final meeting. At that meeting Father Manual apologized for any harm he caused her and expressed remorse.”
Ann says she felt compelled to speak out about her abuse.
"If I can protect one child in all of this trauma and reopening these wounds, then it's worth it to me," said Ann.
The Galveston/Houston Archdiocese says it reported Ann’s abuse claim to the Department of Child Protective Services back in 2001, when her father went to them. The Archdiocese has a case number.
CPS tells us they can’t pull the report up because they don't keep reports that long.
“Those reports only stay in our record system for six months,” said Tiffani Butler, a spokesperson for CPS.
The Catholic Church's own policy for reporting abuse of a minor by clergy is to call CPS. CPS tells us it does not have the power to investigate accusations like these.
“If it's just someone who is kind of weekly sitter or a religious leader or anything like that, that is not typically someone we would investigate, unless again, that person is the legal guardian,” said Butler.
CPS says information in these types of cases is passed on.
“What we do is take on that information (and) send it to law enforcement,” said Butler.
We asked the archdiocese why it wouldn't report the allegations of abuse directly to police. We were told reporting to CPS is the most efficient and effective way to get the information to the right police department.
La Rosa-Lopez is charged with four counts of indecency with a child involving two victims, going back 20 years. Both victims went to Conroe police this year to report the abuse that happened to them. The Mongtomery County DA says it has no record of reports to law enforcement about the abuse from the church or CPS.
The victim we spoke to questions why the church did not contact police.
"I don't understand why they wouldn't go to police. If that's the policy, it's a bad one and it needs to be changed,” said Ann.
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