Lawsuit over Former El Paso Priest Abuse Settled

By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
July 14, 2013

A lawsuit over a former El Paso priest accused of sexually molesting an altar boy and student in the 1970s was settled July 11, said Lori Watson, a lawyer in Dallas who represented the plaintiff.

"The plaintiff was 8 to 12 years old when he was sexually abused by Father Alphonso Madrid when Madrid was assigned to Sacred Heart Church and school in the El Paso Diocese," Watson said. "Not unlike many victims, the plaintiff had repressed the memory of the abuse for many years, due to the trauma associated with the abuse."

According to the lawsuit filed in 2011, the plaintiff, who was identified only as John Doe, suffered serious psychological problems due to the alleged abuse.

Watson alleged that church officials were aware that Madrid was a sexual predator who targeted children, and instead of removing him from positions of trust and reporting him to law enforcement, they covered up the incidents and transferred him around.

No one at the El Paso Catholic Diocese was available on Friday to comment on the settlement. The terms were undisclosed.

Madrid, a Jesuit priest who has died, worked at Sacred Heart in South El Paso from 1970 to 1982. He worked at Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Archdiocese of San Antonio from 1966 to 1970. Watson said Madrid kissed and petted a 9-year-old child while at the San Antonio church.

"The Jesuits were aware of this at the time," Watson said.

Madrid was assigned to San Felipe Church in Albuquerque

before his death in 1982.

The lawsuit by John Doe was filed in El Paso's 327th District Court against the El Paso Catholic Diocese and the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province.

Shortly after the suit was filed, El Paso Catholic Diocese officials explained that while Sacred Heart Church is owned by the diocese it was staffed by the Jesuit Society of Jesus (Jesuits), a religious order.

Regarding the lawsuit, back then, the Rev. Anthony Celino, said, "The diocese (did) not receive any complaint of this nature against him before."

Court records alleged that Madrid persuaded John Doe's family to let him mentor the boy at the time.

John Doe, who was 49 when the suit was filed, was in third grade when he became an altar boy for Madrid, who allegedly sexually molested him on various occasions.

The abuse occurred in the church, in vehicles and in John Doe's home.

Madrid, who was ordained in 1950, worked in the El Paso Diocese for more than 25 years. According to court documents, he was assigned as a priest at El Paso's St. Ignatius High in 1955, and again at the school for a short time in 1966.

He returned to El Paso in 1970 and was assigned to Sacred Heart Church and school as an assistant pastor.

"(Madrid) sexually abused Doe, an altar boy, a student at Sacred Heart, and a parishioner, for a period of approximately five years, beginning when Doe was 8 years old," the lawsuit alleged.

"Beginning well before the molestation of Doe, however, Madrid demonstrated clear signs of mental problems, including 'illusions,' 'hallucinations,' problems with alcohol and sexually acting out with a 9-year-old boy in the San Antonio Archdiocese," the lawsuit alleged. "Despite these red flags, he was assigned by his Jesuit superiors and accepted by diocesan bishops to work in parishes and schools in Mexico, New Orleans, Albuquerque, San Antonio and El Paso."

These behaviors were documented by church officials in records provided to John Doe's lawyers.

"Documents produced by the Jesuits in this case show that by 1960 Madrid was requesting a transfer to New Orleans from a Jesuit high school in Mexico because of the perceived hatred directed at him there," according to the lawsuit.


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