|DA Drops Charges against Ex-Priest; Lack of Evidence Cited
By Tom Sanchez
February 21, 1995
Bernalillo — A charge of child sexual abuse has been dropped against a former Los Lunas parish priest for lack of evidence, 13th Judicial District Attorney Mike Runnels said Tuesday.
The Rev. John Esquibel, formerly a priest at San Clementa Parish, had been accused of raping a 15-year-old altar boy in 1983.
A Valencia County grand jury indicted Esquibel, 55, in October 1993 on a single count of first-degree criminal sexual penetration.
"On this indictment, the charge against Father Esquibel has been dropped," Runnels said.
"On review of our position and the unavailability of witnesses for the state, we believe that proving an essential element of the case — great bodily harm or great mental anguish — might not be possible," Runnels said. " We did not feel, ethically or legally, that we could proceed with the prosecution where we could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that essential element of the case."
The indictment alleged that on or between March 1 and April 30, 1983, the priest caused a minor to engage in sexual intercourse by force or coercion, resulting in great bodily harm or great mental anguish.
Two weeks ago, Esquibel was granted a motion for a psychological examination of his accuser to determine the mental anguish the witness claims he suffered as a result of the alleged rape.
"There were several psychologists involved in this case," Runnels said. " Part of the problem with psychological testimony is that it is sometimes contradictory and, almost always, confusing and hardly ever precise."
Esquibel's attorney, Paul Kennedy, said the priest was "gratified."
"The DA did the right thing. They pretty much had to (drop the charge) because they've been lied to by the accuser," Kennedy said. "We still have the civil litigation to go through now."
Two years ago, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe suspended Esquibel from any ministry or parish work because of the allegation.
Kennedy said he didn't know if Esquibel would be reinstated by the archdiocese.
"I don't have any information on that at all," Kennedy said. "I just don't know what his personal plans are at this point."
No one could be reached at the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for comment Monday.
Runnels said the decision to drop the charge was difficult.
"First of all, we didn't take this case lightly. And we don't take dropping charges lightly, either," Runnels said. "We feel we have acted in good faith all along and regret the fact that we can not proceed with prosecution."
The District Attorney's Office doesn't have any new evidence in the case, Runnels said.
"Nor do we have reason now to look at new evidence, but if it comes to us we will, of course, consider it," he said.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
money guide of hospital products guide of international market guide of repair roof before winter guide of website income guide of secure your business guide of face makeup tools guide of jewellery arts guide of tv shows guide of best places on earth guide of job plans guide of cheap cars guide of creating products guide of women tools guide of eat less guide of car insurance process guide of sport stuff guide of garden home guide of cheap insurances guide of electronic tech guide of healthy feeding guide of what is next in fashion guide of improve company guide of tactical insurance guide of make money at home guide of development in business guide of dept loan guide of cooking secrets guide of correct companies guide of jobs with more income guide of reviews o general products guide of improving technology guide of ideal job guide of business sectors guide of dept problem guide of unlimited business guide of suitable insurance company guide of money cars guide of how to market guide of heatlhy diet tips guide of decoration tipse guide of security problems