Priest, Archdiocese Named in Sex Lawsuit

By Andy Lenderman
The New Mexican
March 30, 2006

Albuquerque — A boy who claims his former priest sexually abused him has sued the priest, the Rev. George S. Silva, in U.S. District Court.

The civil suit filed Wednesday also names Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as defendants.

The boy, identified as John Doe in court records, once served as an altar boy in the St. Patrick's /St. Joseph's Parish in Raton, where Silva served, according to the civil complaint . The boy was younger than age 16 at the time, a separate criminal indictment says.

After gaining his family's trust, Silva took the boy on a religious pilgrimage to Lisbon, Portugal, last June and performed a "non-consensual sexual act" on him in a hotel room there, according to the complaint.

At the time, the complaint reads, Silva had control of the boy's passport, airline tickets and money.

"The boy did not speak Portuguese," the complaint reads. "Essentially, the defendant Silva knew that the minor plaintiff could not seek help or escape from defendant's predatory sexual behavior."

The boy suffered physical injury, pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of faith, among other damages , the complaint reads.

An archdiocese news release Wednesday said: "We respectfully disagree with the allegations against the archdiocese. Archdiocesan policies have been followed."

The statement says law enforcement was immediately informed of the allegation, and Silva was immediately placed on administrative leave and later put on restricted status after an archdiocese investigation revealed Silva violated archdiocese policies.

Silva also faces criminal charges, federal court records show.

In February, a federal grand jury indicted Silva on four counts, including two counts of transportation of a minor in interstate or foreign commerce , with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and two counts of travel in foreign commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct, according to the grand-jury indictment .

He was arrested Feb. 23, court records show, and has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

He has since been released and confined to a halfway house, according to a court order, and has turned over his passport and credit cards to authorities .

Silva's federal public defender for the criminal case could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

In the civil case, the boy's lawyers also allege that Sheehan and the archdiocese failed to properly supervise and train Silva; that Sheehan and the archdiocese were negligent when they entrusted the boy's care to Silva; and that all defendants engaged in a conspiracy to keep Silva's "predatory" sexual behavior from the public, among other allegations. Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or

alenderman@sfnewmexican .com.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.