Cardinal Daniel DiNardo should tell Houston Catholics why he waited two months to announce that a diocesan priest had been accused of sexually abusing a child, the head of a victims’ advocacy group said in a press conference today.
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Standing outside the Archdiocese Chancery downtown, David Clohessy, head of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said DiNardo should have called police as soon as allegations surfaced against Rev. Stephen Horn last November. The two-month gap could have given the 63-year-old Horn time to destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, threaten witnesses or flee the country, Clohessy said. The accuser, now an adult, told church officials that Horn abused him when he was a minor, from 1989 to 1993. The alleged abuse occurred when Horn pastored Christ the King Catholic Church. DiNardo announced Jan. 13 that Horn is in a treatment center.
Citing DiNardo’s “stunning callousness and recklessness” in handling the allegation, Clohessy said the Cardinal should disclose the name and location of the center. He also said the Archdiocese should post the names of local priests accused of child molestation on its Web site, like several other dioceses across the country have.
Clohessy also criticized the Archdiocese for not announcing that a priest convicted of statutory rape in Washington State in 1986 had been living in Houston for several years. (That priest, Ronald Lane Fontenot, was calling himself Jean-Paul Fontenot, and worked as a paralegal at the Coats-Rose law firm until he was fired for undisclosed reasons in December. Fonetenot did not return a message left this morning.)
According to the Official Catholic Directory, Horn was ordained in the Archdiocese in 1973, then worked at St. Mary’s in Texas City until 1976. He then spent a year at St. Theresa’s in Houston. He pastored at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Galveston until 1981, and then at Christ the King in Houston until 1994. He pastored at St. Luke the Evangelist from 1994 until his removal in late 2007. – Craig Malisow