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  Priest Abuse Case Settled out of Court

Associated Press
July 1, 1993

Albuquerque - Three sisters who assused a Roman Catholic priest of sexually abusing them when they were children have agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

Wednesday's announcement of the agreement by the arcdiocese and an attorney for the women did not specify the size of the settlement. Archdiocese officials said they removed the Rev. Lionel Augustine Abeywickrema this year as an assistant pastor of Queen of Heaven parish in Albuquerque in response to the allegations. The church also prohibited him from engaging in any public ministry.

"The only thing he can do is celebrate Mass privately," said the Rev. Ron Wolf, chancellor of the archdiocese. "He is not to wear a Roman collar, he is not to parcipiate in any public ministry...He is essentially retired."

The women allege that Abeywickrema sexually abused them over a period of several years beginning in the mid-1960s церут he was assigned to St.Bernadette's parish in Albuquerque. the sisters ranged in age from 6 to 14 at the time.

They say the priest's actions ranged from improper touching to sodomy, and that he once celebrated Mass immediately after abusing them. They also said he bought them gifts, threatened them or did both in an effort to keep the actions secret.

 
 

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