EXCLUSIVE: 'I can't believe it's happening' Abuse accuser speaks after Conroe priest's arrest

CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- As a priest sits in a Montgomery County jail for alleged sex abuse of teen parishioners nearly two decades ago, one of the accusers is speaking out only to Eyewitness News about coming forward earlier and having her pleas unanswered.

The woman, who is going only by "Ann" in this interview, said there's a mix of emotions after finding out Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez has been charged with four counts of indecency with a child.

"I can't believe it's happening," she said. "I'm kinda in shock right now and very numb."

She never thought she would ever get some sort of justice, but on Wednesday, something as simple as a mugshot meant she was one step closer after nearly 17 years.

"I had a lot of guilt because I felt I was doing something wrong," she said.

Ann is the second alleged victim in a sex abuse scandal out of Conroe where Father Lopez allegedly abused her and another teen in separate locations at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

"I hated myself. I felt dirty and I was always terrified that if people find out about this, what are they going to think about me?" Ann lamented.

Ann says her father went to the church in 2001 soon after it happened, but no police report was ever made.

"It angers me with all the scandals. And (Cardinal Daniel) DiNardo saying we need to stand up for our children, but he doesn't do it," she said.

It wasn't until just two weeks ago that Ann was advised by a friend that the statute of limitations no longer applied.

"I thought it was worth a shot to go to the police and I needed to do for myself what someone should have done for me. I would do that to my child," she said tearfully.

Ann knows this is only the beginning, but is ready to fight a battle that is long overdue.

"I would say to my 16-year-old self, 'It is not your fault and you are lovable,'" she said. "Because that is what I went so long without feeling."
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conroepriest sex abuse
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