CONROE, Texas - A former Conroe priest has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of indecency with a child. Manuel La Rosa Lopez was accused of molesting multiple children dating back to the 90s.
La Rosa Lopez accepted a plea deal with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday.La Rosa Lopez will now be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
"On behalf of my client, I’m certainly appreciative of all the efforts of Montgomery County in bringing closure to both the survivors and victims of La Rosa Lopez," said attorney Adam Dinnell.
Dinnell is representing one of four victims who came forward to law enforcement in 2018, accusing former priest, Manuel La Rosa Lopez of sexual abusing them when they were children.
The incidents stemmed back nearly 20 years.
"It serves as a reminder to any victims out there struggling with the decision whether to come forward that there are people listening," Dinnell said.
Faced 5 charges – 4 counts of indecency with a child, a 2nd degree felony… and 1 count of indecency with a child, a 3rd degree felony.
La Rosa Lopez was initially charged with five counts of indecency with a child – four of which were second-degree felonies, punishable up to 20 years in prison. The fifth count was indecency with a child, a third-degree felony.
As part of his plea deal with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office, La Rosa Lopez plead guilty to two of the five charges and accepted a sentence of 10 years in prison.
The remaining three charges will be dropped by prosecutors.
"Their main goal was to see that he was never around children again. That he couldn’t be in this position again and that he would be a registered sex offender. That’s why I think they’re so satisfied," said Nancy Hebert, chief prosecutor with the Montgomery County DA's Office.
Hebert said his victims were prepared to testify during trial, but the plea deal and La Rosa Lopez’s admission of guilt takes the weight of their shoulders of having to relive through the trauma yet again.
"For the victims, it’s a lot of vindication to have the defendant come forward and take responsibility and say you know what, 'yes I did this.' I am responsible," Hebert said.
The Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston released a statement in response.
"Today we were informed that Father Manuel La Rosa Lopez accepted an offer from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office to enter a plea of guilty to 2 of the 5 charges pending against him, with the remaining charges to be dismissed.
This was a personal decision made by Fr. Manuel after careful reflection and consultation with his attorney. By pleading guilty to 2 of the charges, Father Manuel will accept the punishment that awaits him.
It is our fervent prayer that all persons hurt by sexual abuse, and their families, will find healing and peace, and we certainly hope that is the case for all those impacted by today’s decision.”
Hebert also said victims will have an opportunity to provide an impact statement in December at La Rosa Lopez's sentencing.