Ex-priest tells judge he thought Texas officials had dropped charges alleging sex crimes against children

A former Catholic priest arrested in Lawrence last week on a Texas warrant accusing him of committing sex crimes against children said Tuesday he thought the case had been dropped and didn’t intend to run from authorities.

“I want you to know that I wasn’t trying to hide,” John M. Fiala told a judge. “I was open about where I was, and there wasn’t any attempt on my part to hide and flee from justice, anything like that.”

Fiala is wanted by authorities in Edwards County, Texas, on four counts of sex crimes against children, according to the U.S. Marshal’s Office. Federal and local authorities arrested him Friday in the 800 block of East 11th St.

Fiala was removed from the priesthood in 2008 after the allegations in Texas surfaced.

According to news reports, Fiala had several priest assignments, including in Shawnee in 2001 followed by several months in Holton. He also worked as spiritual director from 1998 to 2001 at a religious order that had a house in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. No reports have detailed any sexual abuse allegations against Fiala while he was in Kansas or Missouri.

He faces a hearing Sept. 14 in Douglas County, where Fiala could either waive his right to fight extradition and be sent to Texas or ask for a future extradition hearing here. Judge pro tem James George set Fiala’s bond at $100,000, cash only.