SAN ANTONIO — A Catholic priest charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy in 2008 in the rural parish where he worked west of here was rearrested last week in Dallas and charged with trying to hire someone to kill his alleged victim.
Father John M. Fiala, 52, was in Dallas County Jail on one count of solicitation to commit murder and two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, officials said. A judge set bail at $700,000.
The sexual assault charges were part of indictments handed up last week in Howard County, which brought to six the number of charges Fiala faces that involve the boy, who was 16 at the time of the alleged offenses.
The Texas Rangers and Department of Public Safety troopers arrested Fiala on Thursday after he negotiated a murder arrangement with an undercover officer at his residence in Garland, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said.
A DPS investigation began Nov. 11, when a neighbor of Fiala tipped off Edwards County Sheriff Don Letsinger. "I received a call from an unnamed informant who was having problems with the way Fiala was acting," the sheriff said.
The neighbor "had been solicited (to commit the murder) himself, and he didn't want anything to do with that," Letsinger said. Fiala reportedly offered the neighbor $5,000 to kill the teen, the sheriff said.
Attorney Tom Rhodes, who is representing the boy in a lawsuit in Bexar County, said his client is relieved that Fiala is again in custody.
"Fiala had threatened him with physical violence and threatened to kill him before, and he was very afraid of that," Rhodes said.
In September, the priest was indicted on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of aggravated sexual assault by threat in Edwards County, where Fiala is accused of raping the teen at gunpoint.
Fiala's attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.
Fiala had been living in Dallas County since he was released from Edwards County Jail after posting $100,000 bail Sept. 27. A fugitive task force arrested him in Kansas on the Edwards County charges, and he was extradited to Texas in September.
Rhodes filed the lawsuit last spring over the sexual assault allegations, also naming the archdioceses of San Antonio and Omaha, Neb., and Fiala's religious order, the Robstown-based Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity.
The lawsuit claims all three entities covered up Fiala's record of abuse, which they have denied. Former San Antonio Archbishop José Gomez and Fiala's religious order removed the priest from active ministry in October 2008.
In a hearing here Monday, a judge rejected the Omaha archdiocese's argument that Texas was not a proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit.
The sexual assault charges stem from Fiala's time as administrator of Sacred Heart of Mary in Rocksprings, which is about 110 miles west of San Antonio. Fiala was working for the Archdiocese of San Antonio but was still a member of the religious order.