Jury selection began this week in a sexual abuse case against the Archdiocese of San Antonio for allegedly covering up that crime committed against an altar boy serving it in the 1970s.
According to a report from MySanAntonio.com, the lawsuit filed against the archdiocese alleges Louis Paul White repeatedly abused a 12-year-old boy during the mid-1970s but did not act on those allegations until 1989, allowing him to serve the church and put more children at risk of sexual abuse. It wasn’t until 1989 that White was defrocked and the church waited until 2009 to publish his name as an accused child sex abuser.
The report details that White was serving as associate pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in 1976 and 1977 when he is accused of molesting the boy bringing the case against the church. This abuse happened about three times a week for up to six months at various locations, including in the church, in the pastor’s bedroom, and at a shop at the rectory.
Criminal charges have not been filed against White. This is a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The archdiocese sent letters in 2009 to the churches where White served notifying them of the crimes he was accused of committing. That letter also notified churches that White was accused of similar crimes while serving at San Fernando Cathedral from 1978 until 1982. Despite having this knowledge, the church allowed White to serve until 1989.
This case mirrors so many more across the country in which a Catholic priest or some other church official is accused of sexual abuse against children, higher church officials are notified but no action is taken against the accused. In many instances of abuse, the priest was either allowed to continue serving the same church or the church moved the priest to another church. This generally led to more children being sexually abused by the same priest.
The report indicates the archdiocese has received accusations against White from before and after his time at Sacred Heart. The Archdiocese further divulged that it has received accusations against 20 priests serving under it from 1950 until 2002 from 58 different accusers. The church has paid $5.2 million to settle allegations out of court.
The lawsuit against the archdiocese states that church officials surely were aware of the accusations against White, likely dating back to the first allegations of his abuse against children attending the churches where he served.
The statute of limitations has expired to file criminal charges against the archdiocese and White but recent efforts to relax strict rules regarding those limitations could allow past victims of abuse to finally come forward with their allegations.