Judge Kills Woman's Suit against Priest

Associated Press
April 29, 1993

ALBUQUERQUE - A woman was aware of the facts surrounding her sexual relationship with a Roman Catholic priest, and simply waited too long to sue him over the alleged five-year affair, a judge has ruled.

State District Judge Gerald Cole dismissed Susan Sandoval's lawsuit on Tuesday, ruling that the statute of limitations expired in 1981 - 10 years before Sandoval filed a lawsuit against the Rev. Robert Kirsch.

Sandoval contended she did not realize the damage done to her until shortly before suing. The lawsuit alleged that during an affair with Kirsch at an Abiquiu parish - starting when the plaintiff was 15 - Sandoval contracted a venereal disease from Kirsch in 1973, became pregnant, probably by Kirsch, and had an abortion in 1976.

The lawsuit also alleged her family life, school and job performance and her ability to sustain relationships were impaired as a result.

Cole, however, found Sandoval was "always aware of all the facts surrounding her sexual relationship with Kirsch, the facts of her physical injuries and many of the facts of her emotional and psychological injuries," even if she did not realize their full extent.

Sandoval's attorney, Bruce Pasternack, said he will appeal Cole's ruling.

Kirsch, in a deposition, acknowledged having sex with the woman - but only after she reached adulthood. He contended it was without passion and thus did not violate his priestly vows. The Roman Catholic church disputed that interpretation.

Kirsch was placed on leave two years ago from a Santa Rosa parish.


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