A daily journal and documents tied to three sex abuse allegations against Manuel LaRosa-Lopez are among the items the Montgomery County District Attorney Office looked for during a search of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on Wednesday, according to a search warrant obtained by KHOU 11 News.
The Archdiocese learned about a sex abuse allegation made months before Lopez entered seminary, according to the warrant.
Attorneys for the Archdiocese provided documents to investigators discussing an "investigation" into the allegation of a sixth-grade boy at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in the early 1990s.
In a letter dated Oct. 9, 1992, by an attorney hired to “conduct an investigation (into) whether the church was required to notify CPS of the complaint, there are several references to meetings, phone conversations, as well as a recommendation for additional spiritual and psychological evaluations,” the warrant read.
“The recommendation was made to Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, so it is reasonable to believe that documents exist relating to the investigation of the complaints by (the victim). Moreover, in a letter dated October 12, 1992, Rev. Fiorenza, Bishop of the Galveston-Houston Diocese, writes a letter back to the attorney conducting the investigation and notes that an additional 'psychological examination will be conducted before admittance into the seminary.' LaRosa was admitted into the seminary Spring 1993,” the warrant reads.
The warrant also references a journal that investigators expected to find.
“Affiant has learned that each priest is required to make a hand-written daily journal of the events at the parish. According to the cannons, Affiant believes that the journal is not something that would be destroyed, but, rather retained. The journal of the defendant has not been located at any location already searched by Affiant,” the warrant read. “Therefore, Affiant has a reasonable belief that this journal may be housed at the Archdiocese.”
The DA’s office, as well as the Conroe Police Department and Texas Rangers, searched the offices of the Archdiocese, including its “secret archives,” for more than 12 hours Wednesday for documents pertaining to LaRosa-Lopez, a priest charged in Montgomery County with four counts of indecency with a child.
The warrant allowed the district attorney’s office to seize all records and documents pertaining to LaRosa-Lopez, including disciplinary records, reassignments, psychological tests and notes and memos regarding sexual abuse allegations made against him.
The warrant also gave the DA’s office the authority to seize “any items leading to the identification of other potential victims or other priests who there is probable cause to believe may have been involved in a crime.”
The DA’s office said that multiple files were located within the Archdiocese’s “secret archives.”
The 12-page warrant details all previous accusations and sums up several discoveries investigators have made, including documents detailing talks with the Vatican about LaRosa-Lopez.
“Further, records in the documentation provided by the attorneys representing the Archdiocese show that correspondence between the Archdiocese and the ‘Holy See of Rome’ concerning the defendant's Board Review and whether the defendant's ‘priestly services’ would be re-instated,” the warrant read.
Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said that if other documents relating to crimes by other priests would be turned over to the Texas Rangers for investigation.
The Archdiocese said in a statement Wednesday: "The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston continues to cooperate, as we have since the outset, with this process. In fact, consistent with Cardinal DiNardo's pledge of full cooperation, the information being sought was already being compiled. ... Pending additional information or developments, the Archdiocese will have no further comment on this ongoing investigation.”