Seven former St. Michael’s High School students have filed a lawsuit that claims they were physically and sexually abused over a four-decade time frame while attending classes there.
The lawsuit makes allegations against three former teachers and coaches — Brothers Andrew Abdon, Tom McConnell and Luis Brouseau — who previously have been named on a Catholic Church list of clergy members deemed “credibly accused” of sex abuse.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in state District Court, says the students were subjected to beatings, groping and fondling by one or more of the men between 1954 and 1980.
St. Michael’s High School general counsel Gerald Coppler said Monday he hadn’t seen the lawsuit “and in any event, we generally do not comment on pending litigation.”
According to the lawsuit, McConnell was a wrestling coach at St. Michael’s when he took one of the accusers to Hyde Park “under the guises of physical testing and character building” and forced the boy to take off his clothes and slapped his bare stomach “at least 30-40 times” while yelling at him.
Another plaintiff says Abdon was his Spanish and religion teacher and forced him to sit in his lap through his seventh, eighth and ninth grade years and would grope his genitals, then give him money following the incidents. The former student told a nun at the school, according to his lawsuit, but the abuse continued.
Brouseau also fondled the genitals of students, according to the lawsuit, and “physically beat” them on numerous occasions.
Abdon died in 1977, according to numerous sources. The New Mexican was unable to locate contact information for McConnell or Brouseau.
The Christian Brothers, the organization that operates St. Michael’s, and the St. Michael’s High School Foundation are named defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of punitive damages on behalf of the seven plaintiffs, who are identified only by their initials.
“This lawsuit is necessary to address a situation involving shared responsibility,” Billy Keeler, an attorney representing the seven men, wrote in a news release Monday. “While these men have each filed a claim in the Archdiocese Bankruptcy, the Christian Brothers must also be held accountable for allowing this abuse to go on for year after year at St. Michael’s.”
The Lasallian Christian Brothers Foundation did not respond to a call seeking comment.
According to newspaper stories, McConnell and Abdon also were accused in lawsuits filed by former students in 1995, and the Christian Brothers paid to settle those cases.