Diocese of Gallup Named in Another Clergy Abuse Lawsuit
By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola
December 10, 2012
FLAGSTAFF — The Diocese of Gallup was named as a defendant in another clergy sex abuse lawsuit in late September but was apparently just notified of the case late last week.
Phoenix attorney Robert E. Pastor filed the lawsuit (CV2012-00649) in Arizona’s Coconino County Superior Court on behalf of an Arizona man identified in court documents as only John “G.H.” Doe of Navajo County. According to the complaint, Pastor’s client claims he was sexually abused as a minor by two Gallup Diocese priests, the late Clement A. Hageman and Raul Sanchez, in the 1970s when he served as an altar boy in Winslow, Ariz. This lawsuit names Sanchez, the Diocese of Gallup, Madre de Dios Church and Hageman’s estate as defendants.
This is the second clergy sex abuse lawsuit Pastor has filed against the Gallup Diocese. The first case (CV2010-00713) was filed in 2010 in Coconino County Superior Court on behalf of another Arizona man who claims he was sexually abused by Hageman while serving as a altar boy at Holbrook’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. That case is ongoing.
Pastor was contacted after a review of court files indicated the Diocese of Gallup had not yet been officially served notice. In a telephone interview Wednesday, Pastor admitted he had not yet notified the diocese of the second lawsuit.
“It is public, it’s filed,” he said. “We just haven’t served the diocese.”
Under Arizona law, Pastor said, he had until Jan. 20, 2013 to serve notice on the diocese. He said work load issues and his transfer to a new law firm had delayed the notification. Pastor, who is now with the firm Montoya, Jimenez & Pastor, said he planned to contact the Diocese of Gallup’s attorneys by Friday.
Pastor tipped his hand earlier this summer when he included a chart of alleged sexually abusive priests in court documents filed in the first case. The chart included the names of Sanchez and Samuel Wilson, two Diocese of Gallup priests who had never been previously named as alleged abusers. Wilson is deceased. Sanchez is still listed as a current Diocese of Gallup priest; however, in a recent directory he is listed as “absent on leave.” When contacted about the names then, Pastor said he had clients who claimed they had been sexually abused by Sanchez and Wilson, and he said diocesan attorneys were aware of those allegations.
In an interview with Gallup Bishop James S. Wall on Nov. 16, Wall was asked about allegations against Sanchez. According to the bishop, he was unaware of any credible allegations.
According to the legal complaint, “To cope with the trauma of sexual abuse John G.H. Doe involuntarily and unconsciously blocked the memories of sexual abuse from his mind. In or about February 2011, John G.H. Doe began to discover memories of clergy sexual abuse.”
As Pastor has argued in the first lawsuit, the complaint asserts diocesan officials “fraudulently concealed” the sexual abuse of Catholic children in the diocese and therefore cannot use the statue of limitations as a defense. The complaint includes eight counts, including sexual assault, abuse or molestation; breach of fiduciary duty; intentional infliction of emotional distress; intentional/negligent misrepresentation; negligent supervision/retention; endangerment; child abuse; and assault and battery.
The Official Catholic Directory indicates Sanchez only served as a parish priest in Winslow for about one year in the mid-1970s. He then studied for three years in Rome, where he earned a doctor of canon law degree. When he returned to Gallup, he served as the chancellor of the diocese from 1980 to 1986. He worked as an Air Force chaplain from 1987 to 2007. His current whereabouts are unknown; however, sources in the diocese believe Sanchez is now living in Mexico.
Pastor was asked if his client has filed a police report with law enforcement officials in Winslow since Sanchez is still living.
“He has not,” Pastor said. “I don’t know if he’s going to. Part of that is finding Sanchez.”
Lt. Jim Sepi of the Winslow Police Department is one of the police officers whose investigation of James M. Burns led to the successful criminal prosecution of the former Gallup priest in 2004 on charges related to the sexual abuse of a Winslow boy in the 1980s. In an email Thursday, Sepi said,?“We encourage any victim of a crime occurring within the City Limits of Winslow to come forward and make a report. We will use whatever resources that are available to locate suspect(s) in a sex offense within the boundaries of the United States, but in another country might be difficult but we would certainly explore every avenue.”
Pastor was also asked how the status of his first lawsuit might affect this second case. According to court documents, Pastor has been conducting settlement talks with diocesan attorneys.
“They don’t seem to be taking the situation very seriously,” Pastor said, adding that the Diocese of Gallup has a history of “settling on the cheap” with other attorneys representing abuse victims.
“We’ll discuss settlement,” Pastor said, “but they have to face the facts ... and the facts are awful.”
Reporter Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola can be contacted at (505) 870-0745 or firstname.lastname@example.org