Lawsuit against Dioceses Alleges Abuse by Three Priests

By Tom Sharpe
The New Mexican
May 7, 2013

An Albuquerque man is suing the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and others, claiming the church failed to do anything about the priests who molested him during his childhood more than 25 years ago in Alamogordo.

Eran Joseph McManemy “has only recently begun to realize that his shattered life is, in fact, a direct result of the abuse he suffered at the ‘holy hands’ of these three sick priests,” says the complaint filed Monday in state District Court in Santa Fe.

The complaint alleges the Rev. Wilfred Diamond began to sexually abuse McManemy soon after he became an altar boy in St. Jude’s Parish in Alamogordo in 1987, when McManemy was 8 or 9 years old.

Diamond retired in 1988, and his temporary successor did not molest McManemy, the complaint says, but when the Rev. Daniel R. Barfield was appointed permanent pastor in 1990, Barfield “also sexually, physically and psychologically assaulted and abused Eran,” the complaint alleges.

The complaint says Barfield provided housing for the Rev. David A. Holley, “a notorious priest-sexual predator,” who “physically restrained” McManemy and “sexually molested and abused, physically and psychologically assaulted and forcibly raped” him.

Holley is the subject of a separate federal lawsuit, also filed Monday, that names as defendants out-of-state dioceses in Worcester, Mass., Denver, El Paso, San Angelo, Texas, and Amarillo, where Holley worked as a priest before or after his service in Alamogordo.

Merit Bennett, who filed both lawsuits, along with Talia V. Kosh and Mark Jaffee, said the separate federal lawsuit is necessary because a state court lacks jurisdiction over dioceses in other states.

Holley was “peddled off” to New Mexico and other states after he was accused of molesting children in Worcester in the 1960s, Bennett said.

“With the support of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, [Holley] was sent out into communities all over New Mexico on weekends, where he molested New Mexico children,” Bennett said. “Then he was actually assigned to Alamogordo from the Servants of the Paraclete [which ran a treatment program for troubled priests in Jemez Springs], when they knew he was an inveterate pedophile. … It’s an unbelievable tragedy.”

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe offered no response to the lawsuits and accusations. But archdiocese spokeswoman Celine Radigan said the Alamogordo parish is part of the Diocese of Las Cruces, which functions independently from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. No one at the Las Cruces diocese responded to a telephone message Tuesday.

Bennett said he believes Diamond is dead. He doesn’t know if Barfield is living or dead, but he thinks Holley is serving a sentence in a New Mexico prison. Online court records indicate Holley pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal sexual penetration and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 years of age in 1993. But the website of the state Department of Corrections doesn’t indicate Holley is still an inmate.

The state lawsuit names as defendants the three priests, the archdiocese, the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Las Cruces, the Servants of the Paraclete and yet-to-be-identified religious orders and individuals who “cultivated, permitted, condoned, ratified, secreted, aided, abetted and/or covered-up the known or suspected sexual deviancy of an untold number of predator priests.”

The Servants of the Paraclete, the lawsuit says, ignored warnings from experts that pedophiles were subject to high rates of recidivism, failed to enact policies on the recruiting, supervision, dismissal and reporting of pedophile priests and covered up molestations by moving the priests to other duties without warning the new communities. This allowed “the sick priest to gain direct access to and sexually abuse a new group of unsuspecting children,” the complaint says.

Both lawsuits seek unspecified damages from the defendants, who are accused of sexual abuse of children, criminal sexual assault and battery, infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, supervision, retention and placement; fraud and negligence; cover-up of criminal activity and conspiracy.



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