Our Cases in the News

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Our Cases in the News

Lawsuit Against Bishop Edward J. Burns

Brown was arrested in Missouri yesterday on charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a child arising from his molestation of another young girl in July of 1989 when the priest was assigned as assistant pastor at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Plano, Texas. When questioned by Dallas police in 2019, Brown confirmed that he had told parents of another victim that when he was in Texas he abused 50 children. He is being held without bond and will be extradited to Texas to face charges.

The lawsuit alleges negligence and gross negligence against the Dallas Diocese and its Bishops and details multiple reports from other victims and their families to the Diocese from the mid- l 980’s and again from 1993 and 1994. Rather than notifying law enforcement at the time, the Diocese sent Brown out of Texas to a Church-run treatment Center in Connecticut. Doctors there told the Diocese he was attracted to underage girls and had sexually acted out with them when he was assigned to parishes in North Texas. But because the Diocese did not notify law enforcement then no criminal charges have been brought against him until this week.

Read More

FAMILY SUES EASTLAND, TX POLICE DEPARTMENT

ABILINE, TEXAS — On January 22, 2019, federal lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Texas (1:19-cv-012) alleging the Eastland Police Department, along with Sergeant Frank Saylors and Police Chief Billy Myrick, failed to properly handle and investigate a 2013 report of sexual abuse of two sisters, consequently allowing the perpetrator to sexually assault another young girl early the following year.

In June 2013 a father went to the Eastland Police Department to report that his daughters, then aged five and seven, had been sexually abused in 2010 by Eastland, Texas resident Clayton Lee Fought. Sgt. Saylors took the family’s statements and initiated an investigation. Video recorded forensic interviews of the sisters were then conducted at the Harmony Home Children’s Advocacy Center in Odessa, Texas.

Read more Police botched case, left a man free to attack and rape again

See Press Release and First Original Complaint below :


North Texas Patients Claim Sexual Assault In Exam Room

Dr. Donald OzumbaThese women and others testified in a criminal trial against Doctor Ozumba this summer where he was sentenced to ten years for sexual assault of a 73-year-old patient. Now, following more grand jury indictments, the Collin County District Attorney’s Office tells the I-Team six more cases are pending in Collin County and four more in Rockwall County.

Several women are also filing a civil suit.

“None of these women knew each other before the criminal case and that brought them together, “ said Attorney Tahira Meritt.

She and Attorney Robert Greening represent the women. They say the former patients want to make sure this didn’t happen to anyone else.

One of the women told CBS 11, “I could have kept so many from being assaulted if they would have believed me,” and then paused, “…because most of those were after me.”

“I think there needs to be some education in the police departments the board of how to talk to these people and understand what is going on,” said Greening. “We believe we are also going to be able to prove in this case that he not only sexually abused these patients but that he also used that position he had to abuse them and perform unnecessary procedures.”

Merritt responded explaining what the women claim actually took place in that exam room. “He would use the sonogram, the doppler, in order to locate where he was going to put the needle…and his hands…and fingers would contact their genitals.”

Read more here

North Texas Patients Claim Sexual Assault In Exam Room

An Olney church and its regional non-profit corporation are being sued for over $1 million by the mother of an alleged sexual abuse victim.

The civil suit seeks recovery of damages based on sexual assault and sexual exploitation allegations against the First Assembly of God Church of Olney and the North Texas District Council Assemblies of God West Region.

Despite the church and victim being in Young County, the case was filed on April 12 in the 89th District Court since the district council, which controls or supervises the Olney church, maintains its headquarters in Wichita County.

The allegations of xxx stem from the church’s “Royal Rangers” youth program, which was “jointly supervised, controlled and locally operated” by the church and district council, the lawsuit states.

The victim participated in the Royal Rangers program when he was about 6 to 8 years old “at the behest of First AOG of Olney and its agent/youth minister, Ryan Anthony Winner,” the suit states.

In a federal criminal case, Winner was sentenced in January 2016 to serve 60 years in federal prison for the production of child pornography.

The Olney church and district council “authorized and empowered Winner to perform all the duties of Royal Ranger leaders… (and) a youth minister,” the suit claims.

In his roles, Winner was placed in a position of power and trust over the boys by his father, who was the lead minister at the Olney church.

Read more here

See Plaintiff’s original petition below:

Ex-South Texas priest sentenced to 60 years for 2011 rape

BEEVILLE, Texas (AP) – A former Roman Catholic priest in South Texas has been sentenced to 60 years in prison after being convicted of raping a teenage girl in 2011.

A Bee County jury convicted 61-year-old Stephen Tarleton Dougherty of aggravated sexual assault and then sentenced him Thursday in a retrial. Another jury in 2017 deadlocked on the charge.

Prosecutors say the victim was 13 years old in December 2011 when Dougherty raped her at a ranch, near Beeville, where she lived with relatives. Dougherty was indicted in 2016 after the girl, while undergoing counseling, reported the attack

Dougherty was ordained in 2003. The Diocese of Corpus Christi says Dougherty has been on leave and out of the ministry since late 2011 after officials received a different complaint alleging sexual misconduct in the 1980s.

Posted: Mar 02, 2018 1:30 PM EST

Updated: Mar 02, 2018 1:30 PM EST

Download the KRIS 6 News Mobile App for iOS/iPhone here and for Android here.

Former Catholic priest in Texas sentenced to 60 years in child rape case

C

ORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A former South Texas Catholic priest, convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl less than a decade ago, will likely spend the rest of his days behind bars.

A Bee County jury sentenced Stephen Tarleton Dougherty to 60 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault Thursday, prosecutor Terry Breen confirmed.

Dougherty, 61, was indicted in Bee County in June 2016.

The victim, who is now an adult, said Dougherty raped her in December 2011 at her grandparents’ Beeville-area home. She told police about the assault after a counselor persuaded her to.

After that indictment, a lawsuit was filed 2016 in Nueces County against the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Dougherty and the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. They stand accused of not doing enough to protect the victim.

Read Full Article Here-USA TODAY NETWORK-Eleanor Dearman, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times

Former Catholic priest convicted in Bee County child rape case, sentenced to 60 years

A former South Texas Catholic priest, convicted Wednesday of raping a 13-year-old girl less than a decade ago, will likely spend the rest of his days behind bars.

A Bee County jury sentenced Stephen Tarleton Dougherty to 60 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault Thursday, prosecutor Terry Breen confirmed. The trial began Feb. 20, he said.

He’s eligible for parole after half that sentence is served and must pay a $10,000 fine. The maximum punishment in the case was 99 years or life.

Dougherty, 61, was indicted in Bee County in June 2016. Click the link below for more.

Read Full Article Here-Eleanor Dearman, Corpus Christi Caller-Times Published 3:46 p.m. CT March 1, 2018

Anthony “Tony” Hernandez Gonzales

Father Anthony “Tony” Hernandez Gonzales was ordained in 1957 as a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and spent much of his career working in various Texas parishes, dioceses and archdioceses, including San Antonio, Houston, Laredo, Brownsville, Uvalde, Elgin, Sabinal, Eagle Pass and Austin. He was also assigned to various parishes in Thunder Bay, Canada. By 1961, complaints had begun to pour in regarding his sexual misconduct involving girls and women and his inabilities to perform his priestly duties. Over the next 20 years, he was frequently transferred and spent much time in treatment and in therapy. “Fr. Tony” continued to concentrate on abusing teenage girls who were members of the parishes where he was assigned by his religious order, The Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

By October, 1981, “Fr. Tony” was working at Immaculate Conception parish in Houston, Texas. There he met “Jane Doe”. She was barely 15 years old and homeless, living in an abandoned house with her mentally ill mother. Father Tony was some 40 years older than “Jane.” She testified that Fr. Tony taught her to pray, wrote poems for her, serenaded her with his guitar, gave her hot meals and warm baths at the rectory with the knowledge of the parish pastor. The sexual abuse continued for several years. Father Tony even told her he loved her and would marry her. By April, 1983, she was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter in January 1984. But by February, 1984, Fr. Tony left Houston, supposedly to seek permission from the Vatican to marry Jane. Instead he was transferred by the Oblates from Texas for Canada where he promptly resumed his abusive behavior with yet another 13 year old girl who he eventually married. He fathered several children with this girl.

During the course of the 2006 lawsuit filed by Jane Doe in Bexar County, Texas against the Oblates and Gonzales, he admitted he had fathered at least eight children while he was a priest with various young girls, mostly in Texas. He also testified that his employer, the Oblates, knew throughout his career of his “problems” but continued to assign him to parish after parish despite that knowledge. The lawsuit was settled for a confidential amount in 2008.

Msgr. Hugh Clarke – Diocese of Corpus Christi

Msgr. Hugh Clarke – Diocese of Corpus Christi

Rev. David Espitia – Diocese of San Angelo

Rev. David Espitia – Diocese of San Angelo

Fairhill School / Matthew Adams (Teacher)

Former Soccer Coach and Teacher at Fairhill School Pleas Guilty to Two Counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child by Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, October 7, 2011
Parents of Child Molested by Teacher, Coach at Fairhill School File Lawsuit Against the School by Jennifer Emily, Dallas Morning News, November 7, 2011
Status: Case settled at mediation August, 2012

Rev. John Fiala

Rev. John Fiala – Archdiocese of San Antonio, Archdiocese of Omaha, Diocese of Corpus Christi and The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). Updated information regarding case here

Rev. Vincent Inametti

Rev. Vincent Inametti – Diocese of Fort Worth

Ex-Inmate’s Suit Names Fort Worth Diocese, Jailed Priest by Bryon Okada Star-Telegram, May 9, 2008
Status: Case settled at mediation April, 2010

Msgr. Richard E. Johnson

Msgr. Richard E. Johnson – Diocese of Dallas

Fr. Nicholas Katinas

Fr. Nicholas Katinas – Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Fifth Greek American Joins in Child Molestation Suit Against Katinas By Theodore Kalmoukos, Orthodox Reform, April 18, 2008
Greek Orthodox Church Settles Dallas Lawsuit Alleging Sex Abuse by Longtime Priest By Sam Hodges, Dallas Morning News, October 29, 2008

(Rev) Rudolph “Rudy” Kos

(Rev) Rudolph “Rudy” Kos – Diocese of Dallas (Ms. Merritt assisted in the two month trial of this case prior to establishing her own firm)

Rev. William Paiz

Rev. William Paiz – Diocese of Fort Worth and Claretian Missionaries

Rev. Msgr. James J. Reilly

Rev. Msgr. James J. Reilly – Diocese of Fort Worth and Diocese of Dallas

(Rev.) Rudolf Renteria

(Rev.) Rudolf Renteria – Diocese of Fort Worth

Woman sues Olney church for alleged role in child sexual exploitation

An Olney church and its regional non-profit corporation are being sued for over $1 million by the mother of an alleged sexual abuse victim.

The civil suit seeks recovery of damages based on sexual assault and sexual exploitation allegations against the First Assembly of God Church of Olney and the North Texas District Council Assemblies of God West Region.

Despite the church and victim being in Young County, the case was filed on April 12 in the 89th District Court since the district council, which controls or supervises the Olney church, maintains its headquarters in Wichita County.

The allegations of xxx stem from the church’s “Royal Rangers” youth program, which was “jointly supervised, controlled and locally operated” by the church and district council, the lawsuit states.

The victim participated in the Royal Rangers program when he was about 6 to 8 years old “at the behest of First AOG of Olney and its agent/youth minister, Ryan Anthony Winner,” the suit states.

In a federal criminal case, Winner was sentenced in January 2016 to serve 60 years in federal prison for the production of child pornography.

The Olney church and district council “authorized and empowered Winner to perform all the duties of Royal Ranger leaders… (and) a youth minister,” the suit claims.

In his roles, Winner was placed in a position of power and trust over the boys by his father, who was the lead minister at the Olney church.

Read more here

See Plaintiff’s original petition below:

Arturo "Art" Chamberlain


SAN ANTONIO — A lawsuit has been filed against a local spa and a San Antonio area massage therapist in connection with an alleged sexual assault in 2016.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Bexar County by Dallas attorney Tahira Khan Merritt on Wednesday, is seeking to “recover civil damages.” Merritt says her client, a woman identified as “Jane Doe 112,” alleges she was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist at the Spa.

The lawsuit identifies the massage therapist as Arturo “Art” Chamberlain. The woman’s attorney says Chamberlain was charged with harassing a teenage girl back in October 2012 when he was her cheer coach and was disciplined by the Texas Massage Disciplinary Board for inappropriate sexual contact with a female client during a massage in August of 2014.

Read more here

See Plaintiff’s original petition below:

Rev. Stephen Tarleton Dougherty

On Tuesday, July 12 , 2016, we filed in County Court at Law #3, Nueces County, Texas, our firm filed a civil case against the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi (Diocese), Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (S.O.L.T) and Stephen Tarleton Dougherty (Dougherty), alleging that when Father Dougherty worked in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, he sexually assaulted and sexually abused our client, who at that time was a child. She is identified in the lawsuit only by the pseudonym, Jane Doe 108.

Dougherty was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 in Corpus Christi, worked in parishes there and in Mathis, and resided in Robstown at the SOLT facility. On June 14th, 2016, Dougherty was indicted by a Grand Jury in Bee County for felony sexual assault of Jane Doe 108. The criminal case is pending.

The civil lawsuit alleges negligence and gross negligence against the Diocese and SOLT, alleging these Church entities knew or should have known prior to the sexual assault of Doe of Father Dougherty’s propensities to molest children, but failed either to warn or protect her.

You could read the petition here

Corpus Christi Caller Times

John Sutton & Ron Staley

A man who alleges he suffered repeated sexual abuse at the hands of Father John Sutton and Principal Ron Staley at Notre Dame Middle School in Wichita Falls, Texas has sued the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and its Bishop, Michael F. Olson.

The victim alleges he was sexually abused beginning when he was a 7th grader by Father John Sutton, his history teacher and the school chaplain. He was also abused by Sutton’s long-time friend the school principal, Ronald M. Staley.

The victim also alleges fraud, misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotion distress among other claims against Bishop Michael Olson and his agents when he came forward to report his abuse to the Diocese in 2013. Read more here.

You could view the lawsuit here.

Dallas Observer post here

See the article on DFW CBS here

Read the Star Telegram article here

Jordan and Josh Earls

A former youth minister at a Baptist church in Texas, who admitted to exchanging sexually explicit text messages and photos with an underage girl from his church, has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

Read more here

Links to other news outlets: here and here

Baptist News Article here

Father Bede Mitchel

FORT WORTH For more than four decades, the woman known in court documents as Jane Doe was silent about her claims that she was sexually assaulted by her priest.

While she pursued her career and marriage, the target of her allegations, Father Bede Mitchel, continued to teach and work in the Catholic Church and maintained a good reputation, according to one church official.

John Salazar

TULIA, TEXAS – A former priest previously convicted twice of sex crimes in California and Texas pleaded guilty in December, 2013 to additional molestation charges in Texas. In civil claims, Ms. Merritt represented several clients from Texas who were molested at various times by Salazar.

Ronald Bollich

BEAUMONT, TEXAS — On November 6, 2013, following extensive mediation, a settlement was reached in a civil suit case filed by six (6) men who were sexually abused when they were boys by Fr. Ronald W. Bollich, a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Beaumont until his death in 1996.

Thomas Teczar

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Texas prison officials denied a petition for early medical release in 2013 for convicted child sex abuser Thomas Teczar, a former Catholic priest. In 2009, Teczar received a 50-year sentence at a criminal trial in which Ms. Merritt served as a Special Prosecutor. She also represented multiple clients in two separate cases against Teczar and the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Louis White

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – On Jan 8, 2013 the Archdiocese of San Antonio and a Floresville man who claimed he was 12 when White, then a priest, began to molest him in the late 1970s, reached a pre-trial settlement which ended more than two years of litigation against the Archdiocese. A substantial default judgment against Louis White, individually, was awarded to the Plaintiff by the Court when Mr. White failed to appear for trial but is not expected to be collectable. Ms. Merritt was a lead counsel in this case.

TMI

TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas

Episcopal School Accused of Ignoring Bullying of Ex-Student By Abe Levy
The Express-News, June 15, 2011
Status: Case settled fall, 2011 after mediation

Rev. Joseph (Nguyen Ngoc) Tu

Rev. Joseph (Nguyen Ngoc) Tu – Diocese of Fort Worth and Dominican Order

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We Respect Your Privacy.

If you or your loved one has suffered sexual abuse, it is important that you promptly notify law enforcement, then contact our firm. Please schedule your initial confidential consultation at no cost with attorney Tahira Khan Merritt by calling:

(214) 503-7300

Or you can send us a confidential email to info@tkmlawfirm.com

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We understand that confronting sexual assault or sexual abuse, whether it occurred recently or in the past, is difficult. Our law firm goes to great lengths to ensure that we honor and protect your need for privacy. Call our law office at (214) 503-7300 or contact us through email to schedule a free, confidential consultation to speak with us.