Two men filed lawsuits Tuesday against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and two of its Albuquerque parishes, saying they were sexually abused as boys by parish priests in the 1960s and ’80s.
In the complaints, the men allege the priests were among dozens who were part of a “culture of sex abuse.”
The cases are the latest in a series that began in the 1990s, accusing priests employed by the archdiocese of rape and other sexual crimes. The new suits say the archdiocese was negligent by failing to properly screen and supervise pedophile priests, and fostered a system that allowed them to flourish in the church.
Albuquerque lawyer Brad D. Hall is representing the victims, who are identified in court documents as “John Doe B” and “John Doe C.”
Last year, Hall filed suits on behalf of 10 other men who accused a long-deceased priest in Northern New Mexico of sexually abusing them when they had served as his altar boys.
The complaints filed Tuesday say the Archdiocese of Santa Fe created “one of the highest ratios in the United States of number of pedophiles to total priests employed.” Out of a total of 150 parish priests working for the archdiocese in Central and Northern New Mexico between the 1960s and ’80s, the complaints say, 40 were accused of child sexual abuse.
During that time, priests facing abuse allegations were sent to the Servants of the Paraclete, a treatment center for accused pedophile priests in Jemez Springs.
The center has been named in numerous lawsuits. It stopped treating pedophile priests in 1996, and it became a retreat house in 2000.
Celine Baca Radigan, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment on the claims.
According to the suit filed by John Doe B, the Rev. Walter Cassidy raped the victim, now in his late 50s, between 50 and 80 times during 1967 and 1968, when the victim was 10 or 11 years old and Cassidy was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish on Griegos Road NW in Albuquerque.
The lawsuit says Cassidy would take the boy to the rectory after catechism class, where he would give the boy alcohol and tell him, “God will make you a better person,” and that the boy would be punished if he “told anyone about his special relationship with the church.”
The lawsuit also says an employee with the parish known as “Mr. Ed” or “Eddie” would provide the boy with alcohol and take him to the priest to be abused.
The complaint says Cassidy’s behavior was reported to the Children, Youth and Families Department, and the archdiocese was aware of it by 1994 but didn’t publicly disclose the information. Cassidy died in 1994.
The second lawsuit alleges the Rev. Sabine Griego, who had attended the Jemez Springs treatment center for previous sexual abuse allegations, raped John Doe C, an engineer now in his 30s, in 1986 when the victim was 17 years old. At the time, Griego was a priest at the Queen of Heaven Parish, in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights.
The lawsuit claims Griego, who has been named in other lawsuits, abused John Doe C after the victim asked the priest questions about celibacy. The victim, who had wanted to be a priest, says in the lawsuit that he told Griego he might struggle with a vow of chastity. Griego reportedly said there was “wiggle room” when it came to the vow of chastity, and that priests and altar servers had ways of “helping each other out” with sexual activity.
In 1986, the victim spent the night at the church’s rectory and slept on a couch after a night of drinking with the priest, the suit says, and in the middle of the night, the priest allegedly raped the teen.
Both lawsuits say the victims had not connected their depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to the abuse they had endured as children until the past year, when they realized during therapy that their flashbacks were related to the long-ago abuse.
“The therapeutic needs of these men require transparency by the current archdiocesan leadership,” said Levi Monagle, a member of the legal team representing the two John Does. “Without documents from that era, where about a third of the priests were sexually abusing hundreds of boys, it will be difficult for these men to begin to understand how and why this happened to them.”
Both suits seek unspecified damages for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and battery.
Contact Uriel J. Garcia at 986-3062 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ujohnnyg.