Albuquerque priest cleared in 2019 church abuse case

Albuquerque Journal [Albuquerque NM]

March 1, 2023

By Olivier Uyttebrouck

A man who filed a 2019 lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused at a Downtown Albuquerque church has admitted that he misidentified a Jesuit priest he named as his abuser, resulting in the case’s dismissal, court records show.

A district judge tossed the suit in February after the plaintiff — identified as John Doe 124 — admitted last year he had misidentified the Rev. J. Patrick Hough as his abuser.

John Doe 124 made the admission in a claim he submitted in September to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for New Mexico in connection with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe bankruptcy case, 2nd Judicial District Judge Nancy Franchini wrote in the Feb. 21 order.

Abuse survivors in December approved a $121.5 million plan that called for payments to nearly 400 abuse claimants to settle the 4-year-old bankruptcy.

Franchini’s order clears the way for Hough to return to active ministry “as soon as possible,” according to a statement issued by his religious order, Jesuits U.S.A. Central and Southern Province in St. Louis.

“I am so grateful to God for giving me the grace to get through this very difficult chapter of my life,” Hough said in the statement.

“I had an amazing legal team who fought hard to prove my innocence,” he said. “With deep gratitude I want to thank my former students, friends, and family who rallied around me with an outpouring of love and support.”

The lawsuit alleged that John Doe 124 was sexually abused at age 17 at Immaculate Conception Church in Albuquerque after the state probation system allowed him to perform community service at the church in 2011 or 2012.

Hough has not engaged in public ministry while the lawsuit was pending, according to the order’s statement.

The order “investigated the facts alleged and based on objective information obtained from witnesses, fully supported Fr. Hough’s denial,” the statement said. “In this case, the claims were not believed to be credible and in remaining steadfast in this belief, Fr. Hough’s long-deserved return to public ministry will become a reality,” it said.