Woman sues Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

November 10, 2010 5:02:55 AM PST
A Houston woman is suing the Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston because of what she says a priest did to her. The lawsuit was filed at the civil courthouse and claims the woman was sexually assaulted by a priest of Our Lady of St. John when she was a child. But proving this case may be difficult since the incident allegedly happened more than 40 years ago.

Those who grew up around Father Lawrence Peguero aren't so sure what to believe.

"Our church hall is named after him so I just think it's strange," parishioner Eliana Perez said.

The lawsuit comes almost exactly a decade after the priest passed away.

"He's not here obviously to defend himself today," Perez said.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged molestation happened back in the 1960s. The alleged victim was then a teenage girl and claims the assault happened at an off-site one-room house that the church had set up as a makeshift confessional.

"She went and was at confession with Father Peguero, and after her confession, he sexually abused her," said John Sloan, attorney of the alleged victim.

According to the suit, the girl attempted to tell superiors but was shut down.

"She complained to another priest at the time," Sloan said. "That priest told her don't tell anyone and go home and pray about it."

In a statement released from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, officials say the first they became aware of the allegations was spring of this year. In the statement, they said they received "no information that he may have been a threat" to children of youth.

While the church admits uncovering the truth this many years after he died will be difficult, it says it will "explore each allegation as thoroughly as possible."

Still, some parishioners question the timing of the lawsuit.

Laurie Flores attended the church at the time of the alleged victim and never saw any wrongdoing.

"Why now?" Flores wondered. "I mean, that's very questionable."

The priest retired in 1993 and died in November 2005. Others have brought similar suits against the priest and the archdiocese.


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