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UPDATE, 6/29/2023: Church Militant obtained the full audio recording of the April 24 meeting between Bp. Olson and Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach, which was played in Tarrant County Court on June 27.
The contents contradict the nuns' claims made in their lawsuit that the prioress was "coerced" into a confession or that Bp. Olson was loud, aggressive and threatened or "traumatized" the nuns.
FORT WORTH, Texas (ChurchMilitant.com) - Insiders at a Texas Carmelite convent are claiming the mother prioress is addicted to drugs and needs help.
In the latest developments in the war between Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson and the Discalced Carmelites of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, local ABC news affiliate WFAA is reporting that three insiders say Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach is using marijuana.
"Yeah, we have knowledge that she has traveled out of state to get illegal drugs and brought them back to the monastery," said one informant.
Gerlach had reportedly traveled to Colorado on a number of occasions, where they believe she purchased the marijuana and brought it back to Texas. Marijuana remains illegal in Texas.
The informants explained Gerlach has been dealing with health issues for years and they fear she may be abusing prescription drugs as well as marijuana.
"WFAA has verified all three sources have spent some time on the heavily wooded and highly isolated 70-acre property either by volunteer work or under contract," the news station confirmed.
"We're here because we need her to get help," one of the informants said.
"She's very, very, very fragile, very fragile," said another.
Bishop Olson recently released photos allegedly taken from inside the monastery showing a room littered with drug paraphernalia.
The nuns' attorney, Matthew Bobo, is denying the allegations: "Absolutely not. Absolutely not. For him to throw this out and make this allegation is to pivot away from the attention he's getting."
Bobo is claiming the photos were staged.
The informants, however, are confirming the authenticity of the pictures.
"I took the picture," one informant said.
Another explained that it was taken in "the craft room" inside the cloister.
They had no information about her alleged violation of the vow of chastity.
Church Militant spoke with the Arlington Police Department, which confirmed the criminal investigation into both the nuns and the bishop remains ongoing. Its official response:
On May 31, the Arlington Police Department received a letter from a local law firm raising allegations about recent actions taken at the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity here in our city. In response, the department has launched an investigation to determine whether any criminal offenses have occurred, which is standard anytime a criminal complaint is made. Investigators are also aware of a public statement released by the Diocese of Fort Worth that alleges possible illegal activity within the Monastery. The investigation is ongoing.
When asked whether the police were looking specifically into allegations of drug use, the police department spokesman answered, "Yes."
While the matter had been handled private initially, the scandal exploded onto national media in May after the nuns decided to take the matter to the public forum by suing Olson in secular court. Olson then published a statement explaining that Gerlach had violated the Sixth Commandment with an unnamed priest outside the diocese and that the nuns were under investigation.
In their lawsuit, the nuns accused the bishop of abuse of authority and heavy-handed behavior that "traumatized" them, including claims that he bullied and threatened the nuns and seized the prioress' cell phone and devices against her will.
Gerlach, through her attorney, denied Olson's allegations, claiming that he extracted a confession from her after surgery and while she was under the influence of pain medication.
Rumors have circulated online that Olson's real motive in targeting the nuns was a money grab, and that his intent was to take over the property.
This led to Olson's releasing a video on June 11 addressing the accusations.
"I was told in April that the prioress, Mother Teresa Agnes, had admitted to my vicar general, Fr. Wallace, and to Sr. Francis Therese of the monastery, that she had broken her vow of chastity with a priest not from the diocese of Fort Worth," said Olson.
"She voluntarily made these admissions on four different dates with clarity and consistency," he noted.
She reportedly admitted it again on a fifth occasion, "in the presence of Sr. Francis Therese, Msgr. Hart, my chancellor, and Sandra Schroeder, the Safe Environment director of the diocese of Fort Worth."
The bishop made clear that Gerlach named the priest in that meeting.
He also rejected accusations that he was attempting to take their property or belongings, or that he forcefully seized their phones and electronic devices against their will.
"[T]he telephone and electronic devices were returned several weeks ago," he said. "They are at the monastery."
He also confirmed that the priest allegedly involved with Gerlach is refusing to participate in the investigation. The priest's faculties have since been restricted by his superior.
Olson also denied allegations as "false and baseless" that he or the diocese planted the drugs inside the monastery.
The nuns' attorney, however, is denying the allegations of drug use: "Show me the proof. You throw out any story you want to. You can throw out any allegation you want to, just show me the proof."