A former Texas priest who was already arrested on child indecency charges in connection with two victims has now been charged with exposing himself to a third victim — a teen boy — during confession.
Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, who was a priest at Conroe’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church before he was removed from ministry following the initial allegations, has now been indicted on the new charges which allegedly took place with a 15-year-old boy in a confession booth in 2000.
The minor alleges that after confessing his homosexuality to the priest, La Rosa-Lopez asked him vulgar questions and “proceeded to open the partition window in the confessional booth and exposed (himself).”
The victim spoke about the incident in a session with a therapist in 2017, according to the lawsuit.
The indictment means there are now five charges against La Rosa-Lopez involving three alleged sexual-abuse victims.
The sheer volume of allegations does not bode well for his criminal defense. He has been accused by men and women who say they were abused as children, and the abuse spans the spectrum of legal severity, so he is definitely fighting an uphill battle.
Of course, his allegations aren’t anomalies within religious organizations. What’s really needed is structural church reform.
Michael Norris, the head of the Houston arm of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told ABC News that his hope is that La Rosa-Lopez pleads guilty, and that the Catholic Church is in need of reform.
“The victims do not need to be re-victimized by reliving their pain on the witness stand,” he said. “If the church truly cared about the victims, they would encourage him to do this. We still have a long way to go. The church still doesn’t get it. The first priority of the church is to protect the institution.”
Unless that changes — unless the Church voluntarily makes big changes in its operating processes and rules — we’re going to keep hearing stories like this one.