Two Lawsuits Claim Flaws with Archdiocese’s List of Accused Priests
By Chris Ramirez
April 5, 2018
On Sept. 12, 2017, the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe released, on its own accord, the names of 74 clergymen identified as credibly accused of sexually assaulting children. At the time, Archbishop John Wester stated the decision for releasing the list stemmed from a desire to rebuilt trust and heal wounds.
But months later, a pair of newly filed lawsuits are calling into question how accurate and how complete the list of 74 priests.
A lawsuit filed in Santa Fe District Court in March alleges at least one name was wrongly included. Another lawsuit filed Thursday claims the list is missing 46 priests.
"For so many survivors of childhood sexual abuse, in particular by clergy, the thing they want more than anything is to be heard and believed when they come forward and admit this terrible thing that happened to them," said Levi Monagle, the attorney for John Doe 80. "To see a list like the list released by the archdiocese in September without your abuser’s name on it is a huge psychological blow."
John Doe 80's lawsuit names 46 priests who are not on the archbishop’s list. Most of them have spent time in Jemez Springs with the Servants of the Paraclete – an order that accepted pedophile priests from across the country to provide therapy and prayer.
Monagle said it would be common for many of those troubled priests to travel throughout the state.
"No one was just bunkered down in Jemez Springs twiddling their thumbs for nine months. These guys were moving around. Very frequently, they were involved in supply ministry projects that took them into parishes, into contact with children, and abuse resulted from that," he said.
Meanwhile, the other lawsuit claims Rudy Blea – listed as a brother of the Benedictine Order – is wrongfully listed as one of the 74 names released by the archdiocese.
According to a defamation lawsuit against the archdiocese filed in March, Blea claims he was "never a member of the Benedictine Order or employed by them." Blea's lawsuit also claims he was "never found guilty or has been publicly accused of sexually abusing a child."
Further, Blea's lawsuit states, "the archdiocese made extremely vile and harmful public accusations against him without conducting a proper investigation."
Monagle says a lack of transparency isn’t helping the archdiocese’s case.
"The overarching problem with this whole process is that you have a secret process determining who is or who isn’t a credibly accused abuser,” he said. “The fact that all of these proceedings happen to be in secret and handed down from the mountain to the people of New Mexico is problematic – inherently problematic, in my opinion."
As with previous KOB coverage on clergy abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, 4 Investigates asked the archdiocese for an on-camera interview; this time to try and get some answers on how the list of 74 credibly accused priests was compiled. Church leaders denied that request.