Northeast Tarrant

Former North Richland Hills church nursery worker accused in child sex abuse case

Francisco Guevara, 65.
Francisco Guevara, 65. Courtesy of North Richland Hills Police Department.

A former volunteer at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in North Richland Hills was arrested Wednesday, accused of sexually abusing children while working in the church nursery.

Francisco Guevara, 65, of Colleyville faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child and one charge of indecency with a child, police said.

The allegations stem from incidents that happened up to seven years ago when the victims were between 4 and 7 years old, police said.

Two of the offenses happened in North Richland Hills and one in Colleyville, police said.

Police did not release further details about the case Wednesday.

The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth notified police and the congregation of the allegations after one of the victims came forward in July.

The diocese also offered counseling to victims and their families, which is standard protocol anytime abuse is reported, spokesman Pat Svacina said.

In a statement Wednesday, the diocese said Guevara was banned from church activities after the allegations were made.

“The Diocese is committed to providing a safe environment for children,” the statement said. All clergy, employees and volunteers are required to undergo special training, and criminal background checks are conducted, according to the statement.

According to a letter sent to congregation members by the diocese in July, several children reported that the sexual abuse took place on church property during evening prayers.

“It is not easy to speak about the reports of abuse to a parish community,” Bishop Michael Olsen said in the letter. “It is important, however, for you to know that the Diocese is ready to reach out to those who have been hurt and need help, that we might assist in any way we can.”

Guevara was being held Wednesday in the North Richland Hills Jail with bail set at $125,000.

A former priest at the same church, Philip Magaldi, who died in 2008, was accused of sexual abuse starting around 1994. Magaldi, who was accused of abusing three young men, was being defrocked when he died.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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