Archbishop Urged to Name Accused Priest
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune [New Mexico]
July 31, 2004
A national support group for survivors of clergy sex abuse is asking Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan to go public with the name of an Albuquerque priest accused of sexually inappropriate behavior decades ago so that other possible victims can be identified.
For more information
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, is the oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the country. It's based in Chicago and has more than 5,000 members, including those in the New Mexico chapter. For information log on to www.snapnetwork.org.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, urges Sheehan to place ads in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe newsletter and church bulletins informing people about the allegations lodged against the priest so that anybody who has been abused or knows of abuse can contact law enforcement.
"Sheehan and his brother bishops have repeatedly promised to be open about sex abuse allegations and to temporarily suspend accused priests while accusations are being investigated. In this case, he is apparently violating his promises," SNAP national director David Clohessy of St. Louis said in a news release issued Friday.
Clohessy also asked Sheehan to make public announcements in each parish where the priest, who is now 71, has worked. He also urged parents to ask their children about any inappropriate actions the priest may have made toward them.
"If you have any information that might prove his innocence or guilt, it is crucial that you come forward," Clohessy said.
In a lawsuit not related to the allegations against the priest, he was named in documents which were subsequently sealed by court order. The documents include six letters written in 1995 by men who accuse him of misconduct when they were parochial middle school students in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The allegations include asking boys to sleep in his bed with him, wrestling with them in underwear, making them stand naked in front of a mirror and asking to wear their jock straps.
The archdiocese and an attorney for the priest stated earlier this week that the allegations were investigated twice by the Archdiocese Review Board and found to be without merit. Sheehan also re-emphasized his zero-tolerance policy for priests who molest children.
"The allegations were brought to Archbishop Sheehan's attention in 1995. He said they were investigated. Then why are six men saying that nothing was done? There appears to be a lack of transparency here," SNAP founder and president Barbara Blaine of Chicago said in the news release. "Knowing that abusers rarely stop abusing, we need to aggressively reach out to anyone who may have been hurt by this priest - and do it immediately."
The Tribune is not naming the priest, whose religious career spans more than 40 years, because he has not been criminally charged.
But Sheehan named the priest in a June 23 letter to clergy in the archdiocese, calling the priest's past actions "questionable" but not sexual abuse.
SNAP is also naming the priest in its news release.
A motion filed by Albuquerque attorney Sam Bregman on behalf of the family of a former St. Pius X High School student also named the priest. But on Wednesday state District Judge Ted Baca ordered the motion sealed.
Steve Rabi of the New Mexico chapter of SNAP said the organization's efforts are not meant to be adversarial but rather an outreach to those who may be suffering in silence and in need of healing. He also said that if the priest is innocent of any wrongdoing, that should come to light as well.
"If you know something good about (the priest), then tell the archbishop," he said. "If you know something bad about (the priest), the archbishop needs to hear that, too."
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