Man Files Lawsuit Alleging Abuse by Three Priests in Alamogordo Years Ago
By Milan Simonich
Las Cruces Sun-News
May 7, 2013
SANTA FE — A former altar boy, now a man of 34, alleges in lawsuits that three priests at St. Jude Catholic Church in Alamogordo molested him for years.
The plaintiff, Eran Joseph McManemy, also says the Catholic Church's hierarchy knew that one of the priests had been sexually abusing boys since the 1960s but did nothing to stop him.
This priest was the Rev. David A. Holley, who left a long trail of molestations at churches from Worcester, Mass., to ones in New Mexico and Texas.
Finally, in 1993, Holley was sentenced to 275 years in prison for sodomizing and molesting eight other boys in Alamogordo. He died in prison in 2008 at age 80.
The other two priests that McManemy identified as his molesters at St. Jude were the Revs. Daniel Barfield and Wilfred Diamond.
The chancellor of the Diocese of Las Cruces, which has jurisdiction over St. Jude's Church, said he had not seen the lawsuit and therefore could not comment on it. A call seeking comment from the Diocese of El Paso was not returned. Holley worked in El Paso parishes in the early 1970s, accumulating molestation complaints long before he eventually met McManemy in Alamogordo.
Merit Bennett, one of McManemy's lawyers, says church leaders did not notify police or prosecutors when they learned that Holley had molested boys.
Instead, Bennett said, a cover-up occurred and Holley was moved along to the next unsuspecting parish, where he could prey on more boys. The church practiced this indifference
to Holley's pedophilia starting in Massachusetts and continued it when he moved west, Bennett said.
He said this enabled Holley to rape McManemy in approximately 1990. In the lawsuits, filed Monday evening, McManemy says Barfield physically restrained him while Holley carried out the rape.
"The damage done to him is very insidious," Bennett said of McManemy. "He is in therapy and has been for the last couple of years."
Since the early 1990s, Bennett said, he had handled 100 to 150 cases in which people alleged molestation by priests or other adults while they were children. Each one was settled before going to trial, but the victims were scarred for life, he said.
"I don't think I've ever met anyone who's recovered from it," Bennett said.
McManemy was a child of 9, living with his grandparents, when they moved to Alamogordo and joined St. Jude Church in 1987.
McManemy became an altar boy for Diamond, the parish priest. He says Diamond began molesting him almost immediately.
"The abuse occurred several times each week until Father Diamond eventually retired in or about 1988," McManemy's lawsuit says.
Barfield received an appointment as pastor of the parish in approximately 1990. McManemy says Barfield also sexually and physically assaulted him.
McManemy says he was not abused by a priest who served in between the tenures of Diamond and Barfield.
Diamond, according to the lawsuits, had a long history with Holley in Alamogordo.
"In mid-1975, Holley was invited by Diamond to assist Diamond at the St. Jude Mission, then under the supervision of the Diocese of El Paso," the suits say. Holley's association with Diamond would last for almost four years during the "70s.
One family complained that he had sexually molested its son, but no action was taken against Holley by the Diocese of El Paso, according to the lawsuit.
"Instead, Holley was made an assistant pastor at the Catholic Church of St. Raphael in El Paso," McManemy's lawsuits allege. "... Of course, Holley promptly sexually molested one or more children at St. Raphael..."
The Diocese of El Paso transferred Holley to its Church of Our Lady of the Valley. He molested more young boys there, Bennett said. Then Holley was transferred to a church in San Angelo, Texas, where the pattern of molestations continued.
Bennett said the church knew Holley was a pedophile, for it had sent him for treatment at a center in New Mexico run by the Paraclete order.
Bennett said the church was aware that these programs would not cure or stop a pedophile priest, but it assigned Holley and other child molesters to new parishes anyway.
McManemy, unlike many who say they were victims of sexual assault, decided to file the lawsuits using his real name.
Bennett said McManemy believed that identifying himself was a necessary step in his attempt to heal, and because he wanted to confront the church for its misdeeds.