Priest Sex Case Lawyers 'Unable to Comment'

April 13, 2010

Lawyers of a Filipino priest reportedly accused of sexually abusing boys in the United States in the 1970s say they do not know enough about the case to answer questions about it.

Fr Manuel Perez Maramba of the Order of Saint Benedict (OSB) was reportedly accused of sexual abuse of boys while he served in Texas in the 1970s, UCA News reports.

News of the charges broke in early April after a third law suit against him was reportedly settled by El Paso diocese in New Mexico, Texas.

"We are at a loss as to how we could defend Fr Maramba or deny the charges against him as he was not a party to the reported settlement," Saguisag, Carao and Associates Law Office wrote.

They called for people to show restraint before judging the priest.

Fr Maramba, who "has done a lot of good needs our prayers, sympathy, understanding and compassion."

"Prudence dictates that we should look at the manifestation of one's entire life, warts and all. We submit that one who has done so much good must be judged by his very best, if we may or must judge at all.

"To presume guilt or even to equate allegations in press reports with established fact is, in our view, neither right, fair, charitable nor prudent," they wrote.

The priest and the Church have been under pressure to comment on the affair.

An April 9 editorial of the Manila Standard Today criticized Church officials' "disturbing silence" on the case.

Neither the 73-year-old priest nor any Philippine Church official has publicly defended Fr Maramba or denied charges against the priest.

But the priest's lawyers say they knew about the allegations only through the media and since Fr Maramba was not party to the proceedings for the reported settlement case, "there is nothing to deny or admit other than that he was assigned to the parish of Las Cruces in 1976-77," the priest's lawyers wrote.

They stressed that the Diocese of El Paso was the party that settled with the plaintiffs after probing and "vigorously" defending its case before US courts.

"That a settlement was reached does not in any way indicate fault on the part of any party," the lawyers said.

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