El Paso, Las Cruces Dioceses Settle on Sexual Abuse Suit

By Daily News Report
Alamogordo Daily News
May 21, 2011

LAS CRUCES A man has settled a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces and St. Genevieve Parish stemming from allegations of sexual abuse by Manuel Perez Maramba, a Catholic priest who served in the Diocese of El Paso in the 1970s.

According to a press release from El Paso Diocese, the lawsuit, which was filed in the 3rd Judicial District Court of New Mexico, alleged that Father Manuel Perez Maramba sexually assaulted the plaintiff, named John Doe in the lawsuit, when he was a minor.

Maramba, a Benedictine monk from the Philippines, served at St. Genevieve Parish in Las Cruces in 1976-77 with the permission of the bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, Sydney Metzger. He also served at the Newman Center in Silver City while working in the Diocese of El Paso.

Maramba is one of the most accomplished musicians in the Philippines. His musical career led him to the United States, where he performed at Carnegie Hall at age 19. He was recalled to the Philippines in 1977 by his Abbey. The lawsuit also alleged that John Doe was inappropriately touched by Father Rosario Lopez, also a Benedictine monk from the Philippines. Lopez served at St. Genevieve's prior to Maramba's arrival in 1976.

John Doe was represented by T.O. Gilstrap Jr. and S. Clark Harmonson, of El Paso. This is the fourth settlement reached with the Diocese of El Paso, the Diocese of Las Cruces and St. Genevieve Parish stemming from allegations of sexual abuse by


In 2004, the National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel formed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued two studies documenting sexual abuse allegations from 1950 to 2002.

The report said there were 10,667 abuse claims nationwide. About 4 percent of all clerics who served during the years studied were accused of abuse.

Churches in Las Cruces and much of southern New Mexico, including Alamogordo, were under the El Paso Diocese until 1982, when the Las Cruces diocese was formed.

Fifty-six sexual abuse complaints were received by the El Paso Diocese over 52 years, said the Rev. John Stowe of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso in a 2004 Daily News report.

In the first church-sanctioned tally of abuse cases, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe reported about 200 victims. The Diocese of Gallup reported 11 and the Diocese of Las Cruces had one. The Diocese of Las Cruces includes Deming, Silver City, Lordsburg, Roswell, Alamogordo, Ruidoso, Carlsbad and Hobbs.

"It's still shocking, no matter what the number is," Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, of Las Cruces, said in the 2004 story. "I want people to know how regretful I feel about the harm that was done to individuals over the years."

Ramirez, in 2004, said the Las Cruces diocese had spent $10,000 to support victims of sexual abuse, even if the abuse occurred outside of the diocese. Some of the counseling provided by the church has gone to victims in Alamogordo, he said.


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