What search warrant for Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston offices said

By Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - KPRC2 has obtained the search warrant executed Wednesday at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston office in downtown Houston.

[SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE SEARCH WARRANT]

The search is tied to the investigation into Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, who's accused of child sex abuse.

Investigators worked well into the night Wednesday identifying and collecting boxes of documents at 1700 San Jacinto Street that could be evidence in the case against La Rosa-Lopez.

He's charged with fondling two children, a boy and a girl, over a period of three years beginning in 1998, while he was pastor at Conroe's Sacred Heart Catholic Church. 

He's also been accused by a third alleged victim, a 6th grade boy who said La Rosa-Lopez touched him. 

The allegation occurred in 1992 while La Rosa-Lopez was at St. Thomas More Catholic Church.

The search warrant claims investigators believed there should be more documents than the 2-3 pages handed over by the church.

The warrant obtained by investigators Wednesday authorized them to search three other buildings owned by the Archdiocese located near the Chancery, but they quickly determined the records they wanted were stored in the Chancery. 

Among the records they were looking for, according to the warrant: 

  • Documents concerning the church's in-house investigation of the allegations against La Rosa-Lopez 
  • Correspondence between him and church officials. 
  • Correspondence between the Archdiocese and the Holy See in Rome about his case, and the decision to reinstate him as a priest. 
  • And his handwritten journal. 

"Even though the Catholic Church has cooperated to a degree, and I appreciate that, the state of Texas is not required to go through the Catholic Church for it's cooperation," Brett Ligon, Montgomery County district attorney, said.

The Archdiocese insisted Wednesday it is cooperating with the investigation, but KPRC2 legal analyst Brian Wice said apparently not enough to satisfy investigators. 

"Generally if an institution, an entity, a defendant, a criminal defense attorney on behalf of defendant, are willing to turn over documents or evidence of an alleged offense, then you don't need to obtain a warrant and execute it. So maybe this speaks volumes about law enforcement's inability to get what they wanted without a warrant," Wice said.

La Rosa-Lopez was removed from the ministry after his arrest. He’s currently free on bond. He denies doing anything wrong.

Below is the search warrant:

 

Watch Phil Archer's Facebook Live interview with Brian Wice below:

 

 

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