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Diocese of Corpus Christi accused of defamation in lawsuits

Posted at 4:33 PM, Mar 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 01:19:26-04

Two Roman Catholic clerics are suing the Diocese of Corpus Christi and Bishop W. Michael Mulvey.  Monsignor Michael Heras and Father John Feminelli are accusing the Diocese of libel/slander and defamation after their names were released to the public as having been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor within the diocese.

Read more:  Diocese of Corpus Christi releases names of local clergy accused of abuse

In January, the Diocese of Corpus Christi released the names of 26 Roman Catholic clerics who were credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor within the Diocese of Corpus Christi.  Bishop Mulvey said an Independent Committee comprised of outside legal professionals recommended the list of names and the Diocese accepted the recommendation of names.

Local attorney Andrew Greenwell filed the two separate lawsuits on behalf of Heras and Feminelli on March 7.  According to the petitions, the plaintiffs are seeking monetary relief over $1,000,000 but no more than $11,000,000.  The petitions state there is no evidence that the priests were credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.  The petitions also state that the publication of the names was made with malice.

Heras was removed from ministry in 2014 and banned from presenting himself as a priest anywhere after the Diocese said several men came forward claiming he acted inappropriately towards them in the 1980’s.  The Diocese also said at that time that Heras would not face criminal charges because the statute of limitations had run out.

Feminelli is retired.

You can view the petitions here: