Financial records sought from Franciscan Friars

Albuquerque Journal

By Olivier Uyttebrouck / Journal Staff Writer
PUBLISHED: Friday, November 28, 2014

An attorney representing alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Gallup bankruptcy case is seeking insurance and financial records from the Franciscan Friars, which for years posted members at parishes in New Mexico and Arizona.

Twelve sexual abuse claims filed as part of the bankruptcy identify seven Franciscan priests as the alleged abusers, according to court records.

In addition, many of the sexual abuse claims allegedly took place during the tenure of Bishop Bernard Espelage, a Franciscan priest who served as the first bishop of the Gallup diocese from 1939 until 1970, records said.

The Diocese of Gallup filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy in November 2013, making it the ninth U.S. diocese to file for bankruptcy in response to sexual abuse lawsuits.

James Stang, a Los Angeles attorney representing 56 alleged abuse victims who filed claims in the case, filed motions asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma to order two Franciscan provinces to provide records in the case.

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