Clergy abuse victims’ attorney wants financial records from Franciscan Friars

Daily Reporter

First Posted: November 30, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — An attorney for victims who claim they were sexually abused by priests in the Diocese of Gallup in New Mexico wants insurance and financial records from the Franciscan Friars, the Albuquerque Journal reported (

Claimants attorney James Stang filed motions asking U.S. bankruptcy Judge David Thuma to force two Franciscan provinces to hand over the records.

An attorney for one of the provinces filed a motion Monday, saying the action shouldn’t be required because the alleged abuses happened years before the province was established.

The diocese filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in November 2013 because of mounting claims of clergy sex abuse. According to court records, 12 abuse claims filed as part of the bankruptcy proceedings name seven Franciscan priests as alleged abusers. Many of the alleged claims happened when Bishop Bernard Espelage, a Franciscan priest, was serving the Gallup diocese from 1939 and 1970, according to records.

The diocese includes parishes in six counties in New Mexico, three counties in Arizona and seven American Indian reservations.

The provinces where Stang is seeking records include Ohio-based Province of St. John the Baptist and Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is based in Arizona and New Mexico. Court records indicate that before 1985, Franciscan priests serving the Diocese of Gallup were members of the Province of St. John the Baptist.

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