“A Catholic priest, facing criminal charges and a lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused a teenage boy, is now charged with attempting to hire someone to kill the youth, authorities said Tuesday.
The Rev. John M. Fiala was in the Dallas County, Texas, jail on Tuesday, charged with one count of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety and the jail’s website. He also is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bail totals $700,000.
Fiala, 52, of Dallas, was out on bond on other sexual assault charges involving the youth, now 18, when he allegedly attempted to negotiate the boy’s murder, said Tom Rhodes, the teen’s attorney.
He was arrested last week after he offered an undercover agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety $5,000 to kill the teen, according to department spokeswoman Lisa Block.
“This guy,” Edwards County Sheriff Don Letsinger said, “is an evil man.” “
You don’t say.
“A call to Rex Gunter, the defense attorney listed in jail records for Fiala, was not immediately returned Tuesday.”
A wise move.
“The youth met Fiala in 2007, according to Rhodes. The attorney said the priest started “grooming him,” buying him gifts including a computer and a car. In early 2008, when the boy was 16, under the guise of providing private catechism lessons, Fiala “gained access to him and began to sexually abuse him once or twice a month, including on church grounds,” Rhodes said.
At the time, Fiala was administrator of Sacred Heart of Mary in Rocksprings, Texas, which is in Edwards County. The alleged abuse occurred in two counties — Edwards and Howard — and included the youth’s rape at gunpoint, the attorney said.
Fiala allegedly threatened to kill the youth if he told anyone — threats he repeated in daily text messages, Rhodes said, and Fiala also threatened to kill himself, telling the teen they would “go to heaven together.” “
Talk about “Sexting“!
“The teen, after struggling with the abuse, told a school counselor, who notified authorities, Rhodes said. He filed suit in April against Fiala, as well as the archdioceses of San Antonio, Texas, and Omaha, Nebraska — where Fiala was before Texas — and Fiala’s religious order, the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, the attorney said.
The suit claims that all three covered up Fiala’s record of abuse. All three have denied doing so, according to the San Antonio, Texas, Express-News.”
“When former San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez and the religious order learned of the police investigation into Fiala’s relationship with the teen, he was removed from active ministry in October 2008, the newspaper reported.”
Less typical — until recently.
“In September, an Edwards County grand jury indicted Fiala on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of aggravated sexual assault by threat, according to the Express-News. Fiala was arrested in Kansas by a fugitive task force and was extradited to Texas, where he posted bail on September 27, according to the newspaper. He then moved to Dallas County.
A grand jury in Howard County handed up an indictment last week on the two aggravated sexual assault charges, the Express-News said.
Meanwhile, “approximately a week ago, we got an anonymous phone call from someone saying, ‘Look, I’m living in a building with this guy, and he’s talking about killing this young man,’ ” Rhodes said. “Our response was, ‘You need to call police.’ ” “
“Letsinger said he got a call November 11 from the neighbor. The man at first just told authorities they should “be looking at this guy,” the sheriff said, but later said Fiala had offered him $5,000 to kill the teenager. The allegation surprised him, Letsinger said.
The Department of Public Safety and its Texas Ranger Division got involved, sending the undercover agent to speak with Fiala, Rhodes said. The conversation was caught on video and audiotape.”
Good work, dudes.
“Rhodes said his client was relieved to hear of Fiala’s arrest. He was attending college but had to withdraw and be spirited away somewhere safe because of the threats, he said.
“He’s still very afraid, but he is hoping that this time Fiala will stay behind bars,” Rhodes said.
A hearing on the lawsuit was held Monday, he said. The Omaha diocese had argued it should be sued in Nebraska rather than Texas. The judge rejected that argument, Rhodes said.
“I think he’s cooked his goose now,” Letsinger said of Fiala. “We know that pedophiles sometimes threaten their victims to keep them quiet. But this is kind of an older victim, and you wonder sometimes why they wouldn’t come forward. … I can see now the evil in this guy is pretty bad.” “
Do Tell Michelle.
Interesting that note of the fact that the victim is older. That’s one of the reason Priest-perps like ‘em younger.
Meanwhile in related news, Doughy Pantload
“In the spring of 2005, Pope John Paul II died. My father, who passed away that summer, watched the funeral and the coronation of the current pope, Benedict XVI, from his hospital bed. My dad, a Jew, loved the spectacle of it all (the Vatican, he said, was the last institution that “really knows how to dress”).”
“From what he could tell, he liked this new pope too. “We need more rocks in the river,” my dad explained. He was saying that change comes so fast, in such a relentless torrent, that we need people and things that stand up to it and offer respite from the current.
I loved the literary quality of the expression “more rocks in the river,” even though the imagery doesn’t quite convey what my dad really believed. Dad was a conservative, properly understood. By that I mean he didn’t think conservatism was merely an act of passive and futile defiance of what Shakespeare called “devouring time.” Unlike human institutions, the rocks do not fight the devouring river of time. My dad believed that conservatism was an affirmative act, a choice of prudence and will. In the cacophonous din of perpetual change, the conservative selects the notes worth savoring and repeats them for others to hear and, hopefully, appreciate.”
As opposed to the cacophonous din of the “Tea Party.” Right?
“Over the weekend, the media (mis)reported that Benedict had renounced the Roman Catholic Church’s longstanding “policy” against condom use. I put “policy” in quotes because the media have a tendency to portray all church positions as if they were like rules for trash pickup; easily changed or abandoned upon papal or bureaucratic whim. That’s not how it works.”
Oh we all know how The Church loves to get trashy.
“What Benedict said in a book-length interview is that in certain circumstances, using a condom would be less bad than not using one. To use Benedict’s example, a male prostitute with HIV would be acting more responsibly, more morally, if he wore a condom while plying his trade than if he didn’t.
The pontiff understands that not all harms are equal. Assault is wrong, for instance, but assault with a deadly weapon is more wrong than assault with a non-deadly one. Recognizing and limiting the harm you do can be the “first step in the direction of a moralization, a first act of responsibility in developing anew an awareness of the fact that not everything is permissible.” “
Except when Priests are involved.
“Now, I’m not on the same page as the Vatican on all matters of sexuality, never mind theology. But I respect it. And, given the core assumptions of Catholic moral thought, I think Benedict’s reasoning is perfectly sound.
But, more relevant, I appreciate the role the church plays in savoring the right notes.”
“It’s a common trope among church critics to glibly suggest that the Vatican has the blood of millions on its hands because it doesn’t back condom distribution, particularly in Africa. That is as absurd as it is unprovable.”
Needless to say it’s neither.
“The church’s opposition to corruption, ethnic violence and murder are just as pronounced and resolute, and yet such maladies persist in Africa as well. Are we to believe that African male prostitutes — no doubt devout Catholics all — were simply following church doctrine when they declined to use condoms?”
“Meanwhile, the church does perhaps more than any other institution to aid the sick and feed the hungry in Africa, something you certainly can’t say about many of the critics in the Fourth Estate peanut gallery.”
Ah but we know a False Equivalency when we see one.
“As for the church’s preferred approach — abstinence until marriage — it may be impractical in most parts of the world, as the critics claim. But it would undeniably save more lives than condom use if put into practice. What seems to offend many isn’t the efficacy of the solution but the suggestion that such values have any place in the modern world.”
What actually offends many is the fact that Fiala isn’t an isolated case.
“The church’s position is that the truest notes are those that not only celebrate life and love but cut through the whitewater racket of devouring time. As those notes become harder to hear, the answer isn’t to stop playing them but to turn up the volume.
Perhaps it’s the approach of yet another dad-less Thanksgiving — a holiday during which we give thanks for whatever parts of our lives that are set to the music of those true notes — that has set my mind in this direction. But that shouldn’t surprise, for he was always the rock in my river.”
It’s the rocks in your head that concern us most.
As for the river — Father Downey will sing us out.