New Sex Abuse Case Could Put L.A. Archdiocese in a Tight Spot
SAN ANTONIO (CN) - A man claims a Catholic priest sodomized him at gunpoint, demanded oral sex, threatened to kill his family if he talked about it, and threatened to kill him and "then kill himself so they could be in heaven together." The man says this all happened in 2008, when he was 16, and that the priest who did it, John M. Fiala, was supervised by San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez. The pope this week nominated Gomez to be the next archbishop of Los Angeles.
The John Doe plaintiff sued the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Archbishop Gomez, and Gomez's predecessors and successors.
The man says Fiala was assigned to the San Antonio Archdiocese in 2004, and that already by then the "Archdiocese knew or should have know that Fiala was engaging in forbidden sexual contact".
He claims that Fiala previously had worked in the dioceses of Corpus Christi, Omaha, and Kansas City, Mo., "with intermittent absences due to 'leaves.'"
Doe says he met Fiala in 2007, and that soon Fiala "lavished expensive gifts on [him], including an expensive laptop computer, cell phone, an MP3 player and money and, later, a car. He bought and provided alcohol to Doe".
In early 2008, Doe says, "under the pretext of giving [him] private catechism classes," Fiala began sexually molesting him "once or twice a month," including "on church grounds."
In January 2008, Doe says, on the pretext of taking him to a "youth event" in San Angelo, Fiala took him to a Motel 6 there, held him "at gun point [and] anally raped the boy, anally penetrating him. Father Fiala threatened Doe I, saying, 'If you tell anyone what happened, I will hurt you and your family.' In February, Fiala assaulted the boy again, including anal penetration on a similar trip."
Next, Doe says, Fiala bought him a Chrysler Sebring. "When the car needed some work, Doe I went to the rectory and Fiala gave him $80 for repairs, saying Doe I had to perform oral sex to get the keys. The boy complied at the priest's room in the rectory," the complaint states.
Then Fiala began to send him text messages "daily," Doe says.
"When Doe I ignored the texts, Fiala threatened to kill the boy, saying he would then kill himself so they could be in heaven together," according to the complaint.
Doe says Fiala arranged another meeting, where he "pulled a revolver on the boy and forced Doe I to perform fellatio on the priest. This occurred in August 2008."
Doe says, "Finally, unable to take it anymore, Doe I ran away from home and eventually tried to commit suicide."
He says his school counselor finally reported the abuse to authorities.
Doe says the injuries he suffered from Fiala were foreseeable, and that the San Antonio Archdiocese, like other archdioceses, concealed the crimes from the public. He says the archdiocese failed to report them to police, but conspired to cover them up, by "spiriting clerics out of dioceses" after they were accused of abuses, "to evade probably criminal prosecution of priest-perpetrators and the possible filing of civil claims by their victims."
Doe seeks punitive damages for conspiracy, negligence, sexual exploitation, and criminal complicity. He is represented by Tahira Khan Merritt of Dallas and J. Thomas Rhodes of Dallas.
Gomez was archbishop of San Antonio from 2004 on, and became coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles this week when Pope John Paul appointed him.
Gomez is a member of Opus Dei, a radically conservative personal prelature.