HOUSTON – An hour after the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston released their list of 42 priests "credibly accused" of sexual abuse, a local group of survivors applauded the effort, but they want more.
Outside the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Michael Norris, the leader of the Houston chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Thursday's announcement was "a small step in the right direction.”
“Ultimately, as a survivor, what you really want is you want to be heard and you want to be believed, and people whose perpetrators were on that list, they got that today,” Norris said. "But I think there are a lot of people out there whose perpetrators aren't on this list, and that's the issue."
The national organization of SNAP said in a statement: “The releasing of these lists is at least one small step towards transparency. Still, we are concerned that these lists might not be as transparent as promised.”
Watch the full SNAP news conference in the video below:
The group is referencing lists in Buffalo, New York, and in Pennsylvania and Illinois that were provided by dioceses in those areas but later grew once outside investigations took place.
Norris said he wants Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to conduct independent investigations across the state.
A woman survivor, who did not want to give her name, spoke Thursday. She said Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, one of the priests on the list, sexually abused her.
She stated she agrees with Norris that there needs to be more law enforcement presence.
"I know that if the law was more involved, more people would come forward. I reported my case in 2001 to the church with it, and it was reported within the last 10 years, and nothing was done. The church did nothing,” explained the woman.
Authorities arrested La Rosa-Lopez last September after investigators said a man and woman accused him of abuse when he was at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe in the late 1990s to early 2000s.
Later, authorities executed a search at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Shalom Center in Splendora in connection with the case.
"I have five children of my own, and as a parent, I can say I know that a falsely accused priest is a tragedy, but how much (more) tragic is (it) that children may be in harm’s way?” the woman said. "I want to encourage victims that are out there (who) haven't told their story to go to the police. Come forward. Somebody will listen to you.”
She went on to encourage people to contact SNAP at 1-877-SNAP-HEALS.