Houston attorney says charges possible but challenges ahead in prosecuting clergy abuse

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A prominent Houston attorney believes arrests could be coming after dioceses across Texas released lists of clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors.

In the Houston area, nearly half of the 42 men named are dead. For those alive, George Parnham believes they could face charges.

"I would think probably so," Parnham said. "I would think it would be incumbent upon the district attorneys to proceed if there's probable cause, and there may not be."

The archdiocese released names of those who were credibly accused of child sexual abuse from the past 70 years. Parnham said there are no statute of limitations on those crimes.

RELATED: Texas Catholic leaders release names of clergy accused of sex abuse

However, he says they may not be easy to prosecute.

"Time takes its toll," Parnham said. "Witnesses pass, evidence is lost, things of that nature."

For Parnham, this week's announcement hit close to home.

"Sadness to a degree," Parnham said.

He spent six years in seminary school, trying to become a Catholic priest. Parnham said the recent allegations haven't destroyed his faith in the church. But his legal side hopes the district attorney's office gets involved.

"I feel certain that they will be taking a look at all sorts of avenues to gather information," Parnham said.

ABC13 Eyewitness News reached out to the Harris County District Attorney's office, but did not hear back. Montgomery County authorities are investigating the archdiocese after it removed items late last year.

On Friday, the Texas Attorney General's office announced it's ready to assist district attorneys if they need help.

"My office stands ready to provide whatever assistance local investigators and prosecutors may need in accordance with state law. I am committed to helping provide safe communities for Texas children and communities of faith alike." Attorney General Paxton said in a statement. "Protecting the most vulnerable among us, especially our children, is our top priority. No one should live in fear of abuse, especially when they believe they are in the hands of their church family."

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