3 File Sexual Abuse Lawsuits against Archdiocese of Santa Fe
By Olivier Uyttebrouck
May 12, 2016
Two unidentified men and a woman have filed lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe alleging they were sexually abused as children by priests working in New Mexico parishes.
Three priests identified as alleged abusers include Jason Sigler, who served nine years in a Michigan prison after pleading guilty in 2003 to molesting two boys.
Other priests identified in the filings as abusers are Earl Bierman, who died in a Kentucky prison in 2005 while serving a 20-year term for child sexual abuse, and George Reiffer, a former Las Vegas monsignor.
The suits were filed in recent days by Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall in 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque.
A man identified as John Doe 49 filed a suit last week against the archdiocese and St. Anthony’s Parish in Fort Sumner alleging Sigler sexually abused him about 1974. The plaintiff at the time was a 10- or 11-year-old altar boy.
The Diocese of Lansing, Mich., sent Sigler in 1970 to a treatment facility for priests in Jemez Springs operated by the Servants of the Paraclete. The diocese later informed the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in writing that Sigler had been accused of molesting boys in Michigan, the suit said.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe assigned Sigler to serve as a pastor in Fort Sumner in 1974 despite warnings from the Diocese of Lansing, the suit said.
The archdiocese said Wednesday in a written statement that it doesn’t comment on pending legislation, “however, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues to be vigilant and stands firm on its zero tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct. We pray for all who have been victims of the sad reality of sexual abuse.”
The archdiocese asked that all abuse cases be reported to civil authorities and to the archdiocese’s safe environment and victims assistance office at 831-8144. The archdiocese said it “works closely with civil authorities to assure the safety of all.”
Sigler, who left the priesthood in 1982, pleaded guilty in Albuquerque to a charge of criminal sexual penetration of a minor in 1983 and received a deferred sentence, according to Journal reports.
He returned to Albuquerque in 2014 after his release. Voice mail messages left Wednesday on a phone number listed in Sigler’s name were not returned.
In a second lawsuit, a man identified as John Doe 60 filed a suit last week against the archdiocese and Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Santa Fe.
The New Mexico native alleges that at age 15 he was sexually abused in 1963 and 1964 by Bierman, a teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Santa Fe.
Bierman was convicted in 1993 in Kentucky of molesting boys while a teacher at the Covington Latin School and sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to news reports.
In a 1995 civil trial in Kentucky, a jury ordered the Diocese of Covington to pay $737,000 to a Kentucky man Bierman abused in the 1970s.
A third lawsuit filed Monday by Jane Doe E alleged she was a parishioner at Immaculate Conception Church in Las Vegas and a student at the parish school when she was “sexually abused and raped” by Reiffer “many times in the rectory.”
The abuse began in 1952 when the girl was 6, the suit alleges. Reiffer’s name has not surfaced in previous lawsuits and his whereabouts today are unknown.