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Ex-Priest John Fiala Plotted Murder of Boy He Sexually Abused, Say Cops

Ex-Priest John Fiala Plotted Murder of Boy He Sexually Abused, Say Cops
John M. Fiala (Dallas County Jail)

SAN ANTONIO (CBS/AP) John Fiala, a former Roman Catholic priest charged with sexually abusing a teenage boy in 2008 in his rural West Texas parish, is now accused of plotting the alleged victim's murder, authorities said.

Fiala of Garland was in the Dallas County jail Monday in lieu of bail totaling $700,000, according to online jail records. He was already charged with sexual abuse of a child and now faces a count of murder solicitation, records show.

Fiala, 52, was arrested at his home Thursday after meeting with an undercover officer to arrange the alleged victim's death, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger told the San Antonio Express-News. Vinger said the investigation began Nov. 11 when Fiala's neighbor tipped off Edwards County Sheriff Don Letsinger.

The neighbor reported that Fiala had offered him $5,000 to kill the sexual abuse complainant, who is now 18, Letsinger said.

The teenager filed a lawsuit in April against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio and then-Archbishop Jose Gomez. The lawsuit alleged that Fiala repeatedly sexually assaulted the teen in 2007 and 2008.

According to the lawsuit, Fiala twice forced the youth to have sex at gunpoint while Fiala was the pastor at Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in the remote West Texas community of Rocksprings, about 110 miles west of San Antonio.

The lawsuit also alleged that officials of the archdiocese knew of serious issues with Fiala.

"Fiala had threatened him with physical violence and threatened to kill him before, and he was very afraid of that," said Dallas lawyer Tom Rhodes, who is representing the teen in the lawsuit.

When Edwards County authorities told the Archdiocese of San Antonio in 2008 that they were investigating accusations of custodial interference - not sexual abuse - by Fiala, the priest was removed from ministry, and the parish was told about the investigation, the archdiocese has said.