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Man Says Priest Defamed Him From Pulpit

ANGLETON, Texas (CN) - A longtime parishioner and former employee of the church claims the chancellor of his Catholic Archdiocese ordered a priest to read from the pulpit during Mass that the parishioner had been "indicted for sexual assault of a minor." But the man says he never was indicted for that.

Jose Nino Jr. sued The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Rev. Monsignor George A. Sheltz, in Brazoria County Court.

Sheltz, the chancellor of the Archdiocese, "ordered the priest of St. Mary Star of the Sea Church to orally read to the parishioners at all Masses during the weekend of October 2 and 3, 2010, that the plaintiff, Jose Nino Jr., was indicted for sexual assault of a minor," according to the complaint.

The 5-page complaint claims the letter included the statements: "The Archdiocese was recently notified that a former employee of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Freeport, Jose Nino Jr., has been indicted for sexual assault of a minor in Brazoria County. ... When the allegation was brought to the attention of the Archdiocese and the parish, Mr. Nino was no longer employed at St. Mary Star of the Sea. ... We are deeply saddened and angered each time a horrific crime and sin of this nature occurs. ... If any parishioner has information regarding Mr. Nino, we ask that you please contact law enforcement immediately."

Nino says the false allegations defamed him and shocked his wife of 43 years.

"The defamatory statements set forth above are false," the complaint states. "The truth is that Jose Nino Jr. was never indicted for sexual assault of a minor."

Nino says he had a good reputation until that weekend.

He demands punitive damages.

He is represented by John Huckeba with Hagood, Neumann & Huckeba, of Alvin.

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