Priest accused of sex abuse of children appears in court

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter, Debbie Strauss - Special Projects Producer

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - A priest accused of sexually abusing multiple victims at churches in which he's worked appeared in court Thursday.

Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez is charged with four counts of indecency with a child involving sexual contact in Montgomery County. There are at least two victims.

La Rosa-Lopez made a court appearance for a status update in his case. The procedural hearing did not last long.  

"Judge checked in. Just on the conditions of bond. Things like that. His case was reset to March the 28th of this year. He's charged by information. It has not gone to grand jury yet. That's the the direction that we're working here at the DA's office," Tyler Dunman, with the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, said.

"The court wants to check up on us and make sure we're doing what we're supposed to do. So that's what happened today," defense attorney Wendell Odom.

La Rosa-Lopez left court quickly. 

The two alleged victims claim that La Rosa-Lopez sexually abused them in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  

La Rosa-Lopez has been removed from the ministry.  

He is free on bond. La Rosa-Lopez has denied the charges against him.

Search warrants were executed in recent months at four locations, including St. John Fisher Church in Richmond. La Rosa-Lopez worked and lived at the church.

READ: Crisis in the Catholic Church

La Rosa-Lopez was arrested in September after investigators said a man and woman accused him of abuse while he was assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

A search warrant was executed at the downtown Houston offices of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in late November.

The Shalom Center and Sacred Heart Church in Conroe were also searched.

As Channel 2 Investigates previously reported, La Rosa-Lopez received treatment at the Shalom Center from 2001 to 2002.

The Shalom Center is a treatment facility for priests and others suffering from psychological problems.

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