Authorities Search Houston Archdiocese As Part of Investigation About Conroe Priest

Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez was arrested in September and charged in Montgomery County with four counts of indecency with a child.

Investigators from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement agencies including the Texas Rangers and the Conroe Police Department conducted Wednesday a search warrant at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, located in downtown Houston, in connection with the investigation of Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez.

LaRosa-Lopez was arrested in September and charged in Montgomery County with four counts of indecency with a child.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said the primary purpose of the search warrant was “to gather documents, records, electronics, and other evidence.”

The Archdiocese said in a statement that it “continues to cooperate, as we have since the outset, with this process” and added the information authorities were seeking was already being compiled.

According to the Archdiocese, the reporting of "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.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who leads the Archdiocese, is also head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Two people who have cooperated with police have accused DiNardo of not doing enough to stop La Rosa-Lopez. Both have told The Associated Press that they met with DiNardo but felt he didn’t take their complaints about LaRosa-Lopez seriously.

Houston Public Media’s Davis Land told Houston Matters that Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said Wednesday’s search warrant was focused on the investigation about LaRosa-Lopez, but added that if evidence pertaining to other cases –or implicating other people– is found, it will be turned over to the proper jurisdiction.

Wednesday’s search warrant was the fourth executed in the joint law enforcement investigation of LaRosa-Lopez. Law enforcement agencies previously executed search warrants at the St. John Fisher Catholic Church (Richmond, Texas) on September 12, 2018; Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Conroe, Texas) on September 17, 2018; and the Shalom Treatment Center (Splendora, Texas) on September 19, 2018.

The Houston chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) released a statement praising Texas authorities for conducting the search warrant and added: “Perhaps if Cardinal Daniel DiNardo had reported the allegations against Fr. LaRosa-Lopez to law enforcement when he first heard of them this raid would not have been necessary.”

LaRosa-Lopez’s four felony cases are pending in the 435th District Court in Conroe. His next court appearance is scheduled for January 10, 2019.

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