Accused priest's attorney surprised by search at Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The search warrant served at the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston caught many by surprise, especially Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez's attorney, Wendell Odom.

"Now we have a DA coming in and seizing a church's records," Odom said. "That is scary."

Odom says client information is privileged, usually meaning the district attorney's office would get a subpoena to collect the information they want and not issue a search warrant.

"A search warrant is when you think someone is hiding documents or destroying documents, and I know of no allegation that the church is burning documents or destroying documents," said Odom.

The Montgomery County District Attorney's office says it went to the church two weeks ago and had a conversation about the documents. It said it met with an attorney who didn't offer anything.

Still, Odom says going through a subpoena would have been a better way to handle it.

"It's very unusual of the DA of Montgomery County to be down here in Houston, standing at the church's doors doing a search warrant. It smacks of grandstanding," said Odom.

But for the victims of the alleged sexual abuse, the search warrant was vindicating. Michael Norris is part of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, an organization that represents the victims.

"They feel vindicated. Every one of them that I've talked to feels like finally, people are being heard. Most victims, the two things they are really looking for is to be heard and to be believed," Norris said.

Norris says while there are two cases where charges have been filed, there are two other alleged victims of abuse as well, for a total of four alleged victims. He says, for them, the search warrant is getting the alleged victims closer to justice.

"What's disgusting about this is, these priests do this to these children and they live with it for the rest of their lives," said Norris.

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