Priest accused of sexually abusing children makes brief appearance in court

By Sofia Ojeda - Anchor/Reporter, Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor

CONROE, Texas - A priest who is accused of sexually abusing children briefly appeared in court Tuesday.

Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez has been charged with four counts of indecency with a child involving sexual contact.

Investigators said La Rosa-Lopez abused a girl and a boy while he was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe from the late '90s to early 2000s.

A third person came forward last week and said he was also abused by La Rosa-Lopez when he served as an altar boy in the mid-'90s.

Prosecutors said the children reported the abuse to church officials at the time, but that information was never relayed to law enforcement.

"The church has known about this and allowed this guy to continue on...the problem is hes been around children and these parents didn't know it's very irresponsible," Micheal Norris with SNAP, the Survivors Network, said.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said that as soon as they learned of the incidents they reported them to Child Protective Services and removed La Rosa-Lopez from ministry.

Church leaders released the following written statement about the case:

“The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston takes these matters seriously and is devoting its energies to cooperating with the civil authorities in their ongoing investigation. We are very early in a complicated process and are fully committed to addressing these issues. As we learn more and have an opportunity to assess what must and will be doing going forward, we will be in a position to make public comments.”

The judge reset Tuesday's hearing for Jan. 10.

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