HOUSTON – The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has asked to throw out a federal lawsuit filed by a man and woman who claim they were abused by a Conroe priest because it was filed too late.
The plaintiffs contend they were abused as children by Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez in the 1990s. La Rosa-Lopez is currently facing five counts of indecency with a child for allegedly abusing three children.
The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, claiming the church covered up allegations of abuse, and continued to allow La Rosa-Lopez access to children.
Lawyers for the Archdiocese filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit contending it was filed years after the statute of limitations ran out in 2011. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the archdiocese is trying to escape responsibility by relying on a legal technicality.
“These are horrible atrocities that happened between an adult and a child. And it should not be forgotten, and the diocese should not look at us victims and say ‘I’m sorry it happened too long ago you were too small.’ What kind of answer is that to give to someone who has been abused by a priest.” said S.N.A.P. leader Edurado Lopez de Casas.
But KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said the Archdiocese has a compelling legal argument.
“No matter how unconscionable the acts in this case may have been, at the end of the day, the law says you’re obligated to bring your action within a specific time frame," Wice said. "And in this case, the archdiocese claims that came too late.”
The ultimate decision will be up to Federal Judge David Hitner, who’s overseeing the civil lawsuit. But regardless of the decision being made, Father La Rosa-Lopez will still have to face the criminal charges still pending in state court.
The Galveston-Houston Archdiocese so far has not commented.
(Note to editors: The Archdiocese is preparing a statement that will need to be added. I’ll forward it as soon as they send it.)