Church Leader Refuses to Discuss Baca Lawsuit

Albuquerque Tribune (New Mexico)
January 21, 2000

SANTA FE Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Sheehan will not say anything about the case of a priest being sued by a woman who alleges he had a sexual relationship with her beginning when she was 15.

"I would not want to get involved in judgments at this point," Sheehan said.

Stella Tafoya, 41, alleges in a lawsuit she filed last week that the Rev. Paul Baca had a sexual relationship with her that began in 1973, when Baca was pastor at Queen of Heaven Church. She said the relationship lasted a year.

Sheehan placed Baca, 75, on administrative leave, and the priest celebrated his final Masses at the Church of the Risen Savior on Sunday.

"It was not easy for me to do that, . . . and it was not easy for him to hear," Sheehan said.

In a letter distributed to parishioners, Baca said that in due time he "will have an opportunity to defend myself against the accusations presented by the media."


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