Diocese of Las Cruces issues statement regarding lawsuit naming Fr. Williams, Fr. Bentley

Deming Headlight
July 20, 2018

Diocese not yet served as of late Wednesday

DEMING – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces has responded to a civil lawsuit they are named in regarding  a man who claims he was sexually abused as a child by Fr. Joseph Anderson and Fr. David Bentley of Holy Family Catholic Church in Deming, NM. The man, listed in his complaint as John Doe 85, served as an altar boy at Holy Family throughout his childhood, and alleges that he was sexually abused by the two priests on hundreds of occasions between 1994 and 2001.

The following is a statement received by the Deming Headlight on Wednesday, July 18, 2018:

"The Diocese of Las Cruces learned on Monday, July 16, 2018, that it has been listed as a defendant – along with Holy Family Parish, the Servants of the Paraclete, and the Benedictine Monks, Inc of Wisconsin – in a recently filed civil lawsuit that alleges sexual abuse of a minor from 1994 to 2001 by Father Joseph Anderson and Father David Bentley.

"Father Bentley departed the Diocese in April, 2002, and Father Anderson died in May, 2002.

"Although the Diocese has not yet been served with the lawsuit and thus cannot comment on its claims, it does state most emphatically that the sexual abuse of a minor is an abhorrent crime that is intolerable. The fact that some Catholic ministers, who are ordained to love and protect God’s children, have perpetrated such acts in the past is a painful wound for all Catholics.

"The Diocese first became aware of the allegations against Fr. Anderson and Fr. Bentley when it was made aware of the claims in the lawsuit. The Diocese shall cooperate completely and transparently in an effort to find the truth in this case.

"Should the facts bear out that anyone was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of these priests, then the Diocese will do all it can to bring justice and healing to the victim.

"However, should the facts indicate that these priests were not involved in any crime, then the Diocese will be morally obligated to take actions which will restore their reputations."

Fr. Anderson came to Holy Family in 1994 and was relieved of his duties in 1999. Little is known about Fr. Anderson’s past now, but public records indicate that Fr. Bentley abused children in Albany, NY in the 1970s. The Diocese of Albany quietly settled claims with Fr. Bentley’s victim in 1994 and eventually sent Fr. Bentley to New Mexico for treatment at the Via Coeli Monastery in Jemez Springs, NM. After his time at Via Coeli, Fr. Bentley was welcomed into the Diocese of Las Cruces, and assigned to Holy Family Parish, where he allegedly preyed upon his altar boy, John Doe 85.

John Doe 85 became an altar boy at about age 9-10 during 1994-95 at Holy Family Parish. He served until 2000-2001. For approximately six years, John Doe 85 claims he was sexually abused by Fr. Anderson and Fr. Bentley during his time as an altar boy.

Fr. Anderson was never incardinated as a priest for the Diocese of Las Cruces, but served as a Benedictine (formerly Benedictine Monks Inc.) in the state of Wisconsin. Benedictines arranged for Fr. Anderson to work in the Diocese of Las Cruces.

Anderson’s tenure in Deming as a Benedictine Monk overlapped with Fr. Bentley’s. Fr. Bentley came to Holy Family by way of the New York diocese and the Servants of the Paraclete. The New York diocese in Albany, NY became aware that Fr. Bentley had sexually abused boys, and sent him to the Servants of the Paracletes facility in New Mexico for treatment.

The lawsuit was filed on July 12, 2018 in the 13th Judicial District Court of Sandoval County in the State of New Mexico. Attorneys representing John Doe 85 are Levi Monagle and Bard D. Hall of Brad D. Hall Law offices in Albuquerque.


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