HOUSTON, TX - The Texas Rangers are currently assisting in a search warrant executed on the Archdiocese of Houston-Galveston which began Wednesday morning around 10 a.m. The Montgomery County District Attorney's office is now heading the raid.
"We will take any document of piece of information related Father Manuel La Rosa Lopez or involving any other criminal activity," wrote Tyler Dunman of the Montgomery County D.A.'s office.
Catholic Church officials are now struggling with a widening scandal after recent sex assault accusations. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was charged and arrested in September, after he was accused of molesting teens in the 1990s and early 2000's.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston released this statement Wednesday morning:
This morning, the District Attorney of Montgomery County executed a search warrant for records and information related to an ongoing investigation. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston continues to cooperate, as we have since the outset, with this process. In fact, consistent with Cardinal DiNardo's pledge of full cooperation, the information being sought was already being compiled. The reporting of a "secret archives" is merely a Church term pertaining to confidential documents kept in a secure manner for the protection of the privacy of individuals -- not unlike medical records. Pending additional information or developments, the Archdiocese will have no further comment on this ongoing investigation.
The third accuser was abused by La Rosa-Lopez before he ever became a priest, according to the accuser's attorney Adam Dinnell. He says it happened while the alleged pedophile was still in seminary in Houston, and when the victim spoke out about it, it was ignored.
"There were four to five instances of what's been described as inappropriate touching," said Dinnell, speaking on behalf of his client who wishes to remain anonymous.
The inappropriate touching happened in the mid-1990s while alleged victim was a 12-year-old altar boy and while La Rosa-Lopez was studying priesthood, said Dinnell.
"He told his guardians first about what had happened," said Dinnell. "He didn't want to be an altar boy anymore. He didn't even want to step foot in the church anymore."
Dinnell says the boy and his guardians told the head of the parish about the inappropriate touching, but the parish did nothing. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez went on to become an ordained priest.
According to court documents, La Rosa-Lopez is accused of then molesting another boy and girl between 1998 and 2000. Those two victims went to law enforcement this year, and La Rosa-Lopez was charged with four counts of indecency with a child in Montgomery County.