Survivors demand more transparency of investigations into accused priests

HOUSTON – A small group gathered outside Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Friday to demand more transparency from the Catholic Church. Members of the group said one year after the Catholic Church released a list of “credibly accused” priests, they’ve gotten no information on the progress of related investigations.

“Once the story breaks, then that’s it. The Diocese just remains quiet,” said Eduardo Lopez de Casas. “We’re convinced that they remain quiet in the hope that everyone just forgets about it.”

Lopez is head of the Houston chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests, or SNAP.

During the Friday news conference, Lopez specifically called for more information about the investigations into accused clergy Jesus Suarez, John Keller and Alfonso Delgado -- all from the Houston area.

“What is happening with these priests, where are they, what is happening with their cases?” said Lopez.

Officials with the Archdiocese said Fathers Keller, Suarez and Delgado were no longer “in active ministry.”

Lopez said the lack of information further traumatizes victims, especially since more cases come to light all the time.

While the Victoria Police Department has reopened an investigation into an incident at a Catholic school.

“I always believed my daughter was sexually assaulted because of the physical contact that he had with her,” said Amber Moreno, mother of a girl leveling the accusations. “She’s not OK, she’s hurt, she’s scared.”

Moreno said she reported physical abuse at the hands of a priest in 2018, but the Victoria police closed the investigation because it did not find evidence of a crime. Moreno said the priest is from the Houston area and was brought to the school to teach students about confessional.

Moreno said when her daughter finally came forward with more detailed accusations, police reopened the case.

“When the Archdiocese was notified of the Nov. 2018 allegation in April 2019, the priest was removed from active ministry. It is our understanding the City of Victoria Police Department investigated the allegation,” said Jo Ann Zuniga with the Archdiocese of Galveston.

The Victoria Police Department released a statement about the case:

“The original report, which was made to the Victoria Police Department on 12/17/2018, was reviewed and it was determined at that time that the elements of a crime were not met; therefore, the case was closed. The victim’s mother came to the Victoria Police Department on 01/22/2020 with additional information on this case, which prompted the department to reopen the case. This is an active and ongoing investigation."