Accused Priests Had Quit Order

By S.U. Mahesh
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
January 25, 1997

A Franciscan priest and a Franciscan brother accused of sexually molesting a former male student at St. Catherine Indian School in the early 1980s have left the Roman Catholic order.

A spokeswoman for the Franciscan Missionary Union in Cincinnati, Ohio, said Friday that Father Christopher Kerr and Brother Dennis Huff no longer work for the religious order.

"Father Kerr left the order within the last two or three years," Dolores Schmitz said. "Dennis Huff also quit the order, but I am not sure when."

Schmitz said she didn't know the reasons why they quit.

The former student, now 29, filed a complaint with the Santa Fe police Wednesday accusing Huff and Kerr of sexually molesting him from August 1980 to May 1983, according to a police report.

The alleged abuse occurred when he was in seventh, eighth and ninth grades at St. Catherine, the report said.

Several attempts to reach the student were unsuccessful.

Huff reportedly worked as a counselor and is accused of raping and molesting the student on numerous occasions, Santa Fe Police Capt. Ray Rael said Friday.

Kerr was apparently a teacher and he is accused of fondling the student once, Rael said. The alleged abuse occurred on the school premises, he said.

Kerr, who now lives in Houston, Texas, said when contacted by phone Friday that he was stationed in Santa Fe in 1980 and 1981.

When asked if he had met the student at St. Catherine, Kerr said, "I don't have any knowledge about it. I have no comment."

Huff, who reportedly now lives in Mesa, Ariz., could not be reached for comment.

Sister Patrick Marie Dempsey, principal of St. Catherine, said Huff and Kerr were stationed at the school during the early 1980s.

She declined to comment on the complaint. "Nobody has contacted me about it. I don't want to comment now."

Dempsey also declined to provide information on what assignments Kerr and Huff had at St. Catherine.

Father Salvador Aragon, a Franciscan priest at St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe, said he had heard about Kerr and Huff, but never met them personally.

St. Catherine is run by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a separate order from the Franciscan group, whose headquarters are in Bensalem, Pa.


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