Catholic Church Settles Alleged Abuse Lawsuit

The Sun-News
May 21, 2011

The Catholic Diocese of El Paso, the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces and St. Genevieve Parish have settled a lawsuit with an unidentified man who alleged sexual abuse at the hands of a Benedictine monk serving at St. Genevieve in Las Cruces between 1976 and 1977.

The charges stem from allegations of sexual abuse by Manuel Perez Maramba, who served in the Diocese of El Paso in the 1970s. The lawsuit, which was filed in the 3rd Judicial District Court in Las Cruces, alleged that Maramba sexually assaulted the plaintiff when he was a minor.

Maramba, who is from the Philippines, served at St. Genevieve Parish 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. Prior to the formation of the Las Cruces diocese, the El Paso diocese served southern New Mexico.

According to a news release from the victim's attorneys, 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 the victim, referred to as John Doe, was inappropriately touched by Fr. Rosario Lopez, also a Benedictine monk from the Philippines. Lopez served at St. Genevieve's prior to Maramba's arrival in 1976.

The victim 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 Maramba.

The suit was filed on April 13, accusing the Catholic Church "of fostering an environment and culture where abuse of children could flourish and in which it was clearly understood that there was no accountability for criminal acts toward children."

The suit alleges that church officials conspired to conceal sexual abuse of children and failed to report it to legal authorities.

The Vatican has recently come under criticism for its policies on how dioceses were to handle complaints involving sex abuse by priests.

The Catholic Church in the United States has paid nearly $3 billion in settlements and legal fees. Payments have bankrupted several dioceses across the country.


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