Arrested former priest served briefly in Kansas

Photo of former Kansas priest John Martin Fiala, who served in Shawnee in 2002, as well as in Kansas City, Mo. in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Photo courtesy of Bishop Accountability.

A former priest, arrested in Lawrence on Friday by U.S. marshals on a warrant for sex crimes against children, served some time in Kansas and Missouri in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

John Martin Fiala, 51, was arrested in the 800 block of East 11th Street on Friday afternoon by U.S. marshals. Fiala was wanted by authorities in Edwards County, Texas, on four counts of sex crimes against children, said Richard Heffron, supervisory deputy for the Topeka U.S. marshal’s office.

An April 2009 story in the San Antonio Express-News details a lawsuit against Fiala, which alleges he raped a 16-year-old boy at gunpoint in Texas in 2007. The article also lists Fiala’s priest assignments, including work at St. Joseph’s Parish in Shawnee in 2001, followed by several months at a parish in Holton. Prior to that, he was spiritual director from 1998 to 2001 at a religious order that had a house in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. However, no reports could be found detailing any sexual abuse allegations against Fiala while he was in Kansas or Missouri.

Fiala, who was removed from the priesthood in 2008 after the allegations in Texas surfaced, was booked into the Douglas County Jail on Friday afternoon. He is being held on $100,000 bond pending an extradition hearing.

A previous Journal-World article reported that the Drug Enforcement Administration agents were present during the arrest, but Heffron said he didn’t believe that was the case.

The photo of Fiala with this story was taken around 1995, and was provided through the website BishopAccountability.org.