HOUSTON (FOX 26) — The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston released a list on Thursday of 42 clergy members who are “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of minors since 1950.
Survivors of priest abuse responded to that list during a news conference on Thursday. A handful of survivors who are a part of the Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests (SNAP) gathered near the archdiocese building in downtown Houston.
The survivors of priest sexual abuse said they believe there are many more priests in the Houston area not on the archdiocese’s list who’ve committed sexual abuse without any consequences.
Amber Perez said her daughter was abused at a Catholic school in the archdiocese, yet her abuser was not on the list.
"Today was really disappointing," said Perez. She also said her daughter was abused in November 2018 and trying to get justice has been daunting.
"There are brick walls put up at every corner,” said Perez.
Another woman, who did not want to give her name, said she was abused by Father Manuel La Rosa Lopez, the Conroe-based priest who is the only one on the list of “credibly accused” clergy who is facing charges.
"I know that if the law was more involved, more people would come forward," said that victim. "I reported my case. It was reported in 2001 to the church with La Rosa Lopez, and it was reported again within the last ten years, and nothing was done."
The list of 42 clergy includes just one criminally-convicted priest. Another 19 of the priests listed are deceased, and many of those who are still alive are retired or were removed from ministry decades ago.
"I believe they are [covering up current cases,]" said Michael Norris with SNAP Houston. "That’s my belief and the data tells me that."
A look at the State of Illinois shows the archdioceses there released lists similar to what happened in Texas on Thursday, but when the Attorney General in that state followed up with an independent investigation, an additional 500 or more clergy were accused of sexually abusing children. Norris has been asking the Attorney General of Texas to do the same.
"I think we would see the same thing or probably twice that [if Ken Paxton got involved,]” said Norris. “I would call for the community to reach out and demand that we know the truth."
At the news conference on Thursday, Norris also demanded that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston do a better job of protecting those who come forward as victims.
"The idea is that when an accuser comes forward, you remove that priest from ministry immediately," said Norris. "You get them away from children until the investigation is done and you determine whether it’s true or not. That’s not what this diocese is doing."
Adding to the fact that he believes the list of 42 "credibly accused" priests is vastly incomplete, Norris said he’s looking forward to a "real list" that he hopes the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office will release after seizing evidence at the archdiocese in November 2018.
SNAP advocates for victims of priest abuse said any survivor who did not see his or her abuser on the list released on Thursday and would like support should reach out to SNAP at SnapNetwork.org or 1-877-SNAP-HEALS.