Agents from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office served a search warrant Wednesday on the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as the state’s top prosecutor seeks piles of documents from the Roman Catholic Church as part of an investigation into sexual abuse.
Though the archdiocese has insisted it is cooperating in the probe, Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a letter Wednesday that its lawyers’ primary goal seemed to be delaying and creating barriers.
Balderas asked the archdiocese in September to turn over records ranging from personnel files to financial documents.
His office confirmed it has received some records.
But letters between Balderas and the archdiocese’s lawyers point to a disagreement over a layer of confidentiality that covers certain documents investigators are seeking.
Over years of lawsuits against the archdiocese, courts have entered confidentiality orders protecting those documents.
Lawyers for the archdiocese said the attorney general’s demand was “extremely overbroad” and baseless but that they agreed in principle to turn over documents as well as reach an agreement on how to handle files covered by the confidentiality orders.
Balderas suggested the archdiocese’s proposals would unreasonably restrict his office in conducting its investigation.
In a statement, the archdiocese said it provided documents to agents concerning two priests: Marvin Archuleta and Sabine Griego.
The archdiocese named both men on a list it released last year identifying clergy it says have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
Archuleta worked in Northern New Mexico from the 1970s at least through the 1980s, including in Santa Cruz, before disappearing. In the 1990s, allegations emerged that he had fondled a 14-year-old altar boy in 1971. He recently was named in a new lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting a child at Holy Cross Catholic School in the 1980s.
ABC News later found Archuleta working at a church in Mexico City.
Griego, who has been living in the Las Vegas, N.M., area, worked in communities including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Ruidoso and Las Vegas before he was laicized in 2005. He has been accused of abusing more than two dozen people.
While other dioceses around the country have released internal files on priests accused of wrongdoing and some survivors of abuse have called for such transparency, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has not followed suit.
Balderas’ demand for documents came after a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a scathing report that focused in large part on how church officials shuffled priests accused of abuse between parishes. New Mexico became a dumping ground, and after exploding into public view during the 1990s, the scandal has drawn on for years.
The archdiocese maintains it has taken a series of steps to prevent abuse. But the state has not seen the sort of broad investigation into past abuses that the Attorney General’s Office is now undertaking.