His accuser was in her 40s and said Guerrero did not abuse her, his attorney Nick Olguin said, according to United Press International. Two witnesses claimed to have seen Guerrero leaving the same room as the woman while adjusting his clothes. Guerrero denies ever abusing anyone.
After the lawsuit was filed, the Lubbock diocese on April 10, 2019 said the alleged accuser is a person who “habitually lacks the use of reason” and is considered equivalent to a minor under canon law. It said the diocese has “no information of a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor below the age of eighteen (18) by Jesus Guerrero.”
“The Diocese of Lubbock has concluded there is a credible allegation against Jesus Guerrero of sexual abuse of a person who habitually lacks the use of reason. The Diocese of Lubbock regrets any misunderstanding that may have arisen from the Jan. 31 posting.”
Olguin questioned whether the woman is a vulnerable adult. In a brief, he said she lives independently and has never been found incompetent, UPI reports. The plaintiff’s brief cited a Catholic spokesperson who in a television interview said a credible allegation means the accused admits to it, the accused is found guilty in court, or someone who witnessed abuse testified about it. Olguin said none of these apply.
However, in the material accompanying the Lubbock diocese’s January 2019 list, the diocese said a name “only appears on the list if the diocese possesses in its files evidence of a credible allegation.” The diocese said its standard of a credible allegation means that “after review of reasonably available, relevant information in consultation with the Diocesan Review Board or other professionals, there is reason to believe is true.”
With the diocese’s clarification, Olguin argued, “the church continued its assault on Jesus by claiming that he has sexually abused a vulnerable adult without any credible evidence whatsoever.” He said the clarification did not get as much attention as the original list.
In comments to CNA, Olguin said that from the beginning Guerrero wanted an apology.
“We are not saying that the Church has no right to warn it’s members, we are saying that when you go outside the confines of your church and seek out the secular media – you better be right or you will be accountable,” the attorney said.
He said the right thing to do is “to admit that a mistake was made and apologize.”
According to Olguin, “the Diocese of Lubbock told me that they would not apologize and threatened to disparage his name even more if we filed a suit.”
“The lawyers for the Diocese of Lubbock, Becket Law Group, want to cloud the issue and state that the issue is the ‘Church’s ability to warn members.’ That is simply not true,” the attorney continued.
(Story continues below)
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“Deacon Guerrero does not have a problem with the Church warning members of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse against a minor – the issue for Deacon Guerrero was that it was not true and the Diocese of Lubbock knew that he had never been accused of sexual abuse against a minor and put his name on the list anyway.”
“Further, Deacon Guerrero has an issue with the Church accusing him of something (they knew was untrue) and then trying to hide behind the pulpit,” Olguin said.
“The issue here is that the Diocese of Lubbock gave interviews to the local media, issued a press release saying ‘list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse against a minor’ is coming soon, when the list came out, the Church sought the secular media to disseminate their list and they put Deacon Guerrero’s name on the list without any clarification of what they meant by ‘minor’,” he added.
“The church says this is what we meant by ‘minor’ – when really there was not ever a credible allegation of sexual abuse by Deacon Guerrero to begin with,” said the attorney.
Will Haun, an attorney at Becket, said that while Guerrero might think the diocese acted innapropriately, civil courts can't intervene in Church matters.
“Deacon Guerrero may think the Diocese was ‘wrong’ to include him on its list, but a civil court cannot make that determination. Doing so would entangle courts in deciding whether a church’s religious laws are true, and second-guess a church applying its religious laws to clergy behavior,” the lawyer said.