LUBBOCK, Texas — On March 22, Jesus Guerrero of Lubbock sued the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock, saying the church falsely accused him of sexual abuse. Recently, the diocese responded in court records.
In 2018, the Catholic Church instructed all the dioceses of Texas to release the names of clergy who were “credibly accused” of sexually abusing a minor. The Diocese of Lubbock was among them.
Guerrero was listed by the Lubbock Diocese as a deacon who had been removed from ministry.
In a response filed with the Lubbock District Court on April 18, the diocese told the court that it was seeking dismissal of the suit, on the grounds that it was an ecclesiastical matter, saying the the First Amendment “prohibits civil courts from intruding in such … matters.”
The diocese acknowledges posting Guerrero’s name on its website on January 31 “with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.”
According to the diocese, they revised the list on April 10, shortly after Guerrero filed his lawsuit, with a clarification related to Guerrero.
The diocese says Guerrero was ordained as a deacon with the church in 1997. In 2003, according to the diocese, a sexual misconduct allegation was made against him “involving a woman known to have a history of mental and emotional problems.” The church defines a minor to include adults with diminished capacity.
The petition goes on to say, after an investigation, the bishop suspended Guerrero on February 26 of that year.
Guerrero was reinstated by the church on July 1, 2006, after he requested reinstatement. But the church says in January 2007, it received another sexual misconduct allegation made by the same woman.
After another investigation, the diocese says they permanently withdrew Guerrero’s diaconal duties in November 2008.
Seeking $1 million or more, Guerrero accused the diocese of libel and defamation. The lawsuit said his reputation was destroyed and he is the subject of contempt and ridicule.