Lawsuit accuses priest at San Miguel Parish in La Mesa of sexually abusing boy

Las Cruces Sun-News

Sept. 5, 2019

By Bethany Freudenthal

One of two lawsuits filed Tuesday against the El Paso Diocese alleges a Las Cruces-area priest sexually abused a boy in the 1970s.

The first lawsuit alleges Father Marcos Rizzo-Rico, then a pastor of San Miguel Parish in La Mesa, abused a young boy from 1974 to 1976.

The second lawsuit alleges Father Juan Montoya sexually abused an 11-year-old girl while serving as pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Roswell in 2001.

The Albuquerque firm Hall & Monagle, which filed the suits, alleges there are at least nine abuse lawsuits pending against the Diocese of Las Cruces and/or the Diocese of El Paso.

In a news release announcing the two most recent lawsuits, the firm stated additional lawsuits are expected to be filed in the coming weeks.

In 1974, a 10-year old altar boy for San Miguel Parish was being physically abused by his stepfather, court documents state. When Father Marcos Rizzo-Rico, referred to as Father Marcos in court documents, found out about the abuse, he told the boy’s mother that the boy could live with him to be “protected from abuse.”

The lawsuit alleges Father Marcos begin sexually abusing the boy as soon as they lived together and that the alleged abuse occurred as as frequently three times per week.

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