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DA to review clergy names; Inquiry to decide if ‘criminal justice’ needed

February 4, 2019

Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz on Friday said his office will conduct an inquiry to determine if there is anything the DA’s office can do regarding Rio Grande Valley clergy accused in the alleged abuse of minors.

Saenz made the statement one day after the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville released the names of 14 clergy members accused of abusing minors since 1965.

“Our office will be conducting an inquiry into this matter to determine what criminal justice actions may, or need to be, taken in response to this disclosure,” Saenz said in a prepared statement.

Saenz’s statement follows one made by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who stated his office is offering assistance to all district and county attorneys in Texas as they prepare to investigate cases involving clergy.

“My office stands ready to provide whatever assistance local investigators and prosecutors may need in accordance with state law,” Paxton said it a statement. “I am committed to helping provide safe communities for Texas children and communities of faith alike. Protecting the most vulnerable among us, especially, our children, is our top priority. No one should live in fear of abuse, especially when they believe they are in the hands of their church family.”

Texas Dioceses on Thursday released the names of priest, deacons and other clergy members accused in the sexual abuse of minors. At least 298 clergy members in Texas have been accused of sexually abusing children.

Bishop Daniel E. Flores, of the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, said the release of the names is part of a commitment all the bishops of Texas made in September 2018.

Flores said “an accurate accounting of the past is necessary for us to move forward with integrity. I and the Bishops of Texas believe that releasing the names after an exhaustive review of the files will contribute to restore trust and healing.”

Six of the priests included in the list have since died.

Flores went onto say, “I again express my profound sorrow on behalf of the Church. One victim is too many. There is great suffering associated to each case.As we move forward, we remain firm in our commitment to take care of those who are most vulnerable in our midst.”

lmartinez@brownsvilleherald.com

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