Film Raised Memories of Sexual Abuse by Albuquerque Priests
By Uriel J. Garcia
May 20, 2017
A lawsuit filed in April against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe says a 2015 film about widespread child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the Boston area triggered a New Mexico's man's childhood memories of being sexually abused by two priests at an Albuquerque church.
Attorneys representing the man, identified as John Doe 66, filed the suit Thursday in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque. It also names the Church of Ascension Parish in Albuquerque's South Valley as a defendant.
The lawsuit, one of more than 60 similar complaints against the archdiocese filed in the last few years by the Law Offices of Brad D. Hall, comes as the archdiocese has asked a state judge in the First Judicial District in Santa Fe to seal records in a separate case alleging sexual abuse by one of its priests.
Filed in December, that suit says seven San Miguel County men, who are not identified, were molested as children by a priest at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Las Vegas, N.M. The priest, Monsignor Hubert C. Lomme, died in 1986 at age 79. The men's attorneys are asking a judge to reject the archdiocese's request earlier this month to conceal documents in the case. The request is "overbroad, complex and limiting," the attorneys say, calling it a "gag order."
According to the Albuquerque lawsuit filed Thursday, John Doe 66, now in his late 30s, collapsed at work after recalling traumatic memories that were triggered by the film Spotlight, which tells the story of The Boston Globe's investigation into the Catholic Church's systemic cover-up of sexual abuse. An ambulance took the man to a hospital for emergency cardio care, where doctors determined he needed therapy to address the childhood trauma he had repressed, the suit says.
When the man was between the ages of 11 and 13, the suit claims, he was sexually abused by two priests, Edward Donelan and Laurier Labreche, at the Church of Ascension Parish, where he was an altar server.
Labreche still lives in Albuquerque, according to Brad Hall, one of the two lawyers who filed the suit, but Donelan has since died.
The suit is seeking an unspecified amount in compensation for damages.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe didn't return phone messages from The New Mexican seeking comment on the case.
Just before Spotlight opened in theaters in 2015, two men who say they were abused by New Mexico priests went public with their allegations and revealed their names. One of them was Kenneth Wolter, who had accused former Catholic priest Arthur Perrault of abusing him when he was a boy. A state judge ruled in February that Perrault must pay $16 million in damages to Wolter.
But Perrault vanished from his Albuquerque parish in 1992 and is believed to be living in Morocco.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe's request to seal records in the pending San Miguel County case is similar to a request it made in 2014 in another case filed by Hall. Second District Judge Alan Malott granted the request in the Hall case, prohibiting public disclosure of various church records, including personnel files and depositions.
"Obviously, the so-called 'priest-abuse crisis' is not over," Hall said Thursday in a news release. "The tendency of the Archdiocese to strive for secrecy to protect documents that describe the true scope of the harms done to New Mexicans by its priests over the years, is a tendency that itself causes harm."
Contact Garcia at (505) 986-3062 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ujohnnyg.