Priest gets 50 years on sex abuse charges

EASTLAND, Texas -- A Texas jury March 26 found a suspended Catholic priest guilty of raping and molesting an 11-year-old boy in the early 1990s and sentenced him to 50 years in prison.

In 2007 Father Thomas Teczar was sentenced to 25 years after being convicted on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. But his conviction was overturned on appeal based on a witness's testimony and a new trial was ordered.

According to news reports, the jury in the priest's second trial on the same charges took less than an hour to find him guilty. On March 27, his 68th birthday, jurors gave the priest a 50-year sentence.

According to a story by The Associated Press, Father Teczar testified that he was innocent and claimed he did not know his accuser, who is now 30. But he also "admitted to being sexually attracted to teenage boys," AP said.

Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., in 1967, Father Teczar moved to Texas, where his brother lives, in the early '80s after the Worcester Diocese barred him from ministering there after abuse allegations surfaced against him.

Father Teczar served at several parishes in the Diocese of Fort Worth from 1988 to 1993. After abuse allegations against him in 1993, he returned to Massachusetts, according to news reports.

In 1998 an investigation by The Dallas Morning News daily newspaper led to Father Teczar's eventual prosecution after it found that he had left Texas after refusing to answer a county grand jury's questions about abuse accusations made against him.

The Worcester Diocese, with the support of the Fort Worth Diocese, has initiated the process for his laicization by the Vatican.

In December 2007, the Fort Worth Diocese reached a settlement with alleged victims of Father Teczar through mediation of a lawsuit brought against the diocese. At the request of the plaintiffs the amount of the settlement was not released.

Afterward Fort Worth Bishop Kevin W. Vann, in apologizing on behalf of the church, said that "sexual abuse of anyone, especially minors, is repulsive to me."

"It is a sin and a crime. That it is done by a priest is disheartening," he said. "It results in a tragic damage to your faith, your families and the public at large. As a priest, I am embarrassed, disheartened, appalled and angered by this behavior."

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