Attorney: Accused Priest May Have Had AIDS
By Regina Ruiz
April 11, 2013
Sexual abuse allegations against a New Mexico priest may have gotten worse, after the victim’s attorney said he’s investigating claims that the priest had AIDS.
As sex abuse allegations mount against former Questa priest Michael O’Brien, attorney Kelly Clark said new information has surfaced about a potentially harmful secret he may have been keeping.
“If it turns out that Father O’Brien suffered from AIDS, God forbid that he passed that on to any of his victims,” Clark said.
Clark represents a 37-year-old who said O’Brien raped him as a boy. A complaint was filed this month against the church and the archdiocese.
Clark said he’s heard O’Brien was suffering from AIDS from several sources he’s interviewed, including people who knew O’Brien. He will likely not have access to O’Brien’s medical records because those are confidential, but he plans to find out the truth through deposition testimony in the coming months.
Clark said the effect on victims in this case could be far more than emotional and psychological damage.
“Unfortunately and tragically, it may be in this situation that it could be quite measurable ” Clark said.
Clark said it will be crucial for victims to know if and when O’Brien contracted the disease.
“If it turns out that Father O'Brien contracted AIDS during a time he was still in regular contact with children, then we will probably make some sort of announcement about that and encourage anybody who was abused by him to be tested,” Clark said.
Clark said he community should have more answers in six months to a year as the case unfolds.
O’Brien died when he was 48 in Taos. His obituary said he died of cancer.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe said it’s looking into the allegations, but said the information may be protected under patient privacy laws.