Religious Order Member Accused of Sexual Abuse Still Allowed On Lafayette Campus
By Steven Albritton And Tina Macias
September 8, 2014
A member of the Brothers of Christian Schools, who was accused of molesting several boys in the 1980s, is living in Lafayette and traveling to a school campus every week to pray with his order.
Bro. Samuel Martinez, 78, lives in a Lafayette retirement home and is transported to the Holy Family Community on the campus of John Paul The Great Academy on weekends for religious exercises.
But the most recent head of the order's New Orleans-Santa Fe District, David Sinitiere, says Martinez is not a risk to children. Even though some sex offenders in Louisiana are not allowed to go within 1,000 feet of a school - even if no children are present - Martinez does not have to follow that restriction because he was never criminally charged. Everything was settled in civil court.
"Brother Samuel Martinez had what we determined a credible accusation against him. It was 40 years ago, but we still had to address the issue today," Sinitiere said
Martinez is not allowed to live on the campus like the other brothers because he's under a safety plan. When he is taken to the campus, he is under constant supervision with another adult. He was accused of molesting 10 boys during his time at Cathedral High School in El Paso from 1972 to 1985 according to a lawsuit. The abuse happened when he was principal of the school from 1976 to 1985.
The Brothers of the Christian Schools, District of New Orleans-Santa Fe (NOSF) was under contract to run the school during that time. At least four settlements and $3.6 million have been paid to victims, with the most recent lawsuit being settled in 2012.
That prompted a federal lawsuit between an insurance company, Brothers and the Diocese of El Paso. In court depositions and a psychiatric evaluation filed in federal court, one of the victims described his encounters with Martinez as beginning innocently. Martinez would call him out of class to talk with him. It progressed to the victim sitting on Martinez' lap; Martinez singing to him; and eventually, allegedly being masturbated by Martinez.
The victim said he transferred schools shortly after this and had issues with drugs and alcohol as a young adult. He eventually married, but has intimacy issues. He has children and has become "hyper-aware of pedophiles." He checks the local sex offender database routinely and even complained to a store manager when he noticed an offender shopping nearby.
Martinez was first accused of molesting a boy in New Orleans in the 1970s, and because of that fired from the school and transferred to the El Paso School, according to a lawsuit.
Sinitiere says Canon law makes it difficult to remove someone from the religious order. He says it is part of the healing process to keep him because he is still a part of their religious community.
"Why send somebody like that in society where there will be no checks and balances on him. That's our commitment as religious, not only to our individual brother, but also to society in general. He goes out there who is going to watch him," Sinitiere said.
The New Orleans-Santa Fe District merged with the San Francisco District this summer, making Sinitiere an educational consultant, and with plans in the works to move Martinez to another community separate from a school.
"We consider that part of our mission now, of being able to try and rectify this way what happened 40 years ago by being models and giving hope to those victims that it will never happen again," Sinitiere said.