Church Sex Abuse Lawsuit Settled
By Olivier Uyttebrouck
November 17, 2012
An Albuquerque man who filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest has reached a “mutually agreeable” settlement with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and the Servants of the Paraclete, his attorney said Friday.
Clifford Esquibel filed the lawsuit in October 2011, alleging the Rev. John George Weisenborn sexually molested him beginning in 1966 or 1967 when Esquibel was a seventh-grade altar boy at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Albuquerque.
The abuse continued until Esquibel was a 15-year-old student at Albuquerque High School, the lawsuit said.
Court records show that Weisenborn, who is now deceased, had lived since 1964 at Via Coeli, a treatment facility for priests in Jemez Springs operated by the Servants of the Paraclete.
The abuse began after Weisenborn resumed pastoral duties at Albuquerque parishes around 1966, the suit contends. Weisenborn was formally assigned to St. Francis Xavier in 1968 and served there into the 1970s.
The lawsuit alleged that Esquibel was “plied with alcohol” and sexually molested by Weisenborn, on several occasions at a motel on east Central Avenue.
Court records obtained from Weisenborn’s former religious order show he had been apprehended three times in 1964 by Washington, D.C., police for “homosexual relations with boys” before he was sent to New Mexico.
The Servants of the Paraclete opened Via Coeli in 1947 to treat priests with alcohol and emotional problems. But almost immediately, the center began receiving priests who had sexually abused children.
Esquibel’s attorney, Brad Hall of Albuquerque, last week asked District Court Judge Alan Malott to dismiss the case. Hall said Friday he had reached a monetary settlement with the Archdiocese and the Servants of the Paraclete that barred him from discussing details.
The Archdiocese’s attorney, Arthur Beach of Albuquerque, confirmed Friday that the case “has been resolved” but declined to discuss details.
The Archdiocese and the Servants were the target of dozens of lawsuits in the 1980s and ’90s alleging that priests were molesting children. Many alleged that pedophile priests came to New Mexico for treatment by the Servants of the Paraclete and were then sent to churches around the state. The Servants closed the treatment center in 1995.