New Lawsuit Alleges 1980s Questa Priest Was Pedophile
By Mark Oswald
April 2, 2013
A new lawsuit has been filed in state District Court alleging that a Roman Catholic parish priest in Questa sexually abused a 10-year-old or 11-year-old boy repeatedly over a period of a year and half in the 1980s.
The suit alleges that the Rev. Michael O’Brien abused the boy while assigned to St. Anthony Parish in Questa, north of Taos, where the victim’s parents wanted him to be an altar boy and the priest was known as “Father Mike.” The Archdiocese of Santa Fe and St. Anthony Parish are named as defendants.
Efforts by a Journal reporter to reach an archdiocese spokeswoman for comment today were not immediately successful.
The lawsuit says the victim of O’Brien’s “many counts of criminal sexual contact and penetration” went to the archdiocese in 2012, “seeking help.” The suit alleges he was told the archdiocese would pay for counseling for him “as long as he did not talk to a lawyer or bring a claim.”
As his “realizations developed during counseling about his patterns of self-destructive behavior and the extent of his harm,” the victim – identified only as John Doe in the suit – did decide to contact an attorney, the lawsuit states. When his lawyers contacted the archdiocese, “the Church `cut off’ its parishioner from any further counseling, despite his need and the benefits he obtained therefrom,” the suit states.
The suit says the abuse at Questa took place in an era where the church placed many “known or likely” pedophile priests in New Mexico parishes and was “pretending” it didn’t know which priests were pedophiles although they came from treatments centers in the East or from a now-closed treatment center in Jemez Springs.
The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.