A former lay leader in the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth was sentenced to prison Friday for raping a girl, the same day a young man filed a lawsuit accusing diocesan leaders of conspiring to protect a predatory priest.
Joseph Mangone, who was director of liturgy at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in North Richland Hills, was convicted this week after a police detective testified that the defendant had confessed to him. Mr. Mangone denied confessing and vowed, through his attorney, to appeal.
Mr. Mangone, 45, was sentenced Friday to five years on the sexual assault charge and two years each on two counts of indecency. The sentences will be served concurrently.
This was his second trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child. Last fall, a Tarrant County jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of a guilty verdict.
Defense attorney Randy Bowers has said the victim, now 24, was motivated by money. She has a lawsuit pending against Fort Worth diocesan officials, charging that they failed to supervise Mr. Mangone properly.
The diocese has denied wrongdoing in that case. Its officials could not be reached to comment late Friday on the new lawsuit, which involves a priest who served rural parishes at the diocese’s western edge in the early 1990s.
Fort Worth Bishop Joseph Delaney hired that priest, the Rev. Thomas Teczar, though he had been forced from ministry in his home diocese of Worcester, Mass., and sent to a treatment center.
Father Teczar’s personnel file shows a long history of sexual misconduct complaints, about which Bishop Delaney has said he knew little.
Massachusetts police arrested the priest in December 2002 on a Texas warrant charging him with the 1990 rape of a 12-year-old boy in Eastland County. He remains free on bond and has not responded to requests for comment.
The alleged victim in that criminal case has not sued the diocese. The plaintiff in the new civil case is jailed on theft charges; he first went public with abuse allegations last year after Bishop Delaney told him in a letter: “Your complaint against[Father Teczar] is the first that I know of that involves misconduct with a minor.”
At the time, The Dallas Morning News had already published articles about other complaints. A spokesman later said that the bishop had meant the man was the first to come forward in Texas.
Father Teczar, 62, resigned from his Texas parishes and returned to Massachusetts in 1993, when an Eastland County grand jury was pursuing molestation charges against two of his now-imprisoned friends.
When The News first asked Bishop Delaney about that matter in 1998, he said he knew nothing and thought Father Teczar left simply because he no longer wanted to work in Texas. Later, he said the priest had told him that he was under investigation for not reporting his friends’ abuse of minors, and that authorities would drop the probe if he left the state.
The authorities have said no such deal existed, that the priest refused to answer questions before the grand jury and that the diocese would not assist with subsequent investigation.
About the same time Bishop Delaney hired Father Teczar, he also took on an old friend who also had been in trouble in the Northeast. That priest, the Rev. Philip Magaldi, 66, was accused and later convicted of embezzling from a Rhode Island parish.
He ended up working at the same church as Mr. Mangone, St. John the Apostle, until being accused of molestation in 1999 and resigning. He has denied sexual and financial wrongdoing.
The prosecution is not disappointed with the verdict, said Jay Lapham, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney.
“We asked for a substantial period of time in jail and the jury gave us something less,” Mr. Lapham said. “Would I like to have seen life? Yes. But am I disappointed? No. They sent him to prison, and that’s the important thing.”