The former Roman Catholic priest was sentenced Friday afternoon in a Dallas courtroom after a jury found he had attempted to arrange the murder of a boy who had accused the ex priest of sexually assaulting him on numerous occasions.
Under Texas law, it is the jury, not the judge, who decides the sentence. As reported by Fox News, the jury deliberated for four and one-half hours before deciding that John Fiala, 53, should be sentenced to 60 years in prison. The jury had found the ex priest guilty of the murder-for-hire plot the day before.
Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence but were reported to be satisfied with the sentence the jury came back with. Fiala's attorney had previously told the jury that anything more than 15 years would be a "travesty."
The prosecutor, Brendan Birmingham, had also asked the jurors to impose a fine in the amount of $5,016. The sole purpose of the fine was that it would be symbolic. Fiala had offered to pay $5,000 to have the boy killed, who was "16" at the time he first began sexually assaulting him.
Fiala will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the abuse began in 2008 when Falia offered to drive the youth to see his girlfriend who lived hours away. Often, the two would stop at hotels. The boy testified, "He turns off the lights and bad things start to happen."
The abuse also took place in the former priest's rectory and in vehicles. The boy never told his family or friends because Fiala threatened to harm them. On one occasion, he sexually assaulted the teen at gunpoint.
According to CBS News, the boy filed a lawsuit in April 2010 against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio alleging he was sexually assaulted on several occasions and that the archdiocese was aware there were problems with Fiala.
On Nov. 11, 2010, a neighbour of Fiala's went to police and told them the priest offered him $5,000 to kill the boy. Later that month, Fiala met with an undercover police officer posing as a hit man and was charged with murder solicitation.
Fiala's attorney unsuccessfully argued before the jury that it was the neighbour's idea to kill the boy although no one could offer a motive of why the neighbour would want him dead. He also argued Fiala wasn't serious about having the teen killed.
Fiala faces outstanding charges in other Texas jurisdictions, including the original sexual assault charge against the unidentified now 20-year-old.