Leader of El Paso Catholic Church testifies in ex-priest's sexual assault trial

By Justin Kree And Jala Washington
CBS 4 News
July 10, 2019

[with video]

Bishop Mark Seitz of the El Paso Catholic Diocese was called to testify in the trial of a former El Paso priest accused of sexually abusing a young girl in the 1990s.

Seitz was only on the stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

He was questioned about a telephone conversation with former priest Miguel Luna in August 2017.

On Tuesday, Luna pleaded not guilty to all 12 counts of sexual assault of a young girl who served as an altar server in the church where Luna was a priest in El Paso.

Seitz faced rapid questioning about the phone call, and was not able to fully answer one question without being asked another.

Seitz recounted that Luna sounded groggy during their conversation — and got angry when Seitz said he had to make public what Luna had done.

In a written statement by Seitz presented in court, he wrote that during he phone call, Luna accused him of having no mercy and ruining his life.

Seitz also said Luna insisted the announcement of his confessed sexual abuse would only bring out false accusers, saying there were no other victims.

Seitz said he couldn’t take Luna’s word for that, after Luna had already lied.

Seitz said Luna told him he had gone to confession and that God had forgiven him, but the church had not.

Seitz could possibly take the stand to be questioned again by the defense later Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, emotions ran high as the victim — now 38 years old – was on the stand again describing in-depth the multiple times she was sexually assaulted by Luna.

She claims she told her sister about the time she thought Luna got her pregnant. She said she had a miscarriage.

The victim was asked why she didn’t tell anyone else. She said she was afraid no one would believe her because Luna was a priest.

The defense then asked why the victim filled out a “request for relief” form and if it was to ask for money from the diocese.

The victim said, “No. There is no amount of money that can bring back what that man took from me.”

After the victim was excused from the stand the jury was led out of the courtroom and the state called another witness.

The witness said that she was a victim of Luna and that she was raped by him when she was 11 years old. She claims that Luna was in seminary school in Alpine, Texas, when he started sexually assaulting her. She said that he would sneak into the family home late at night, take her down the hall to a back bedroom and rape her.

The second victim claims that Luna got her pregnant and that she had an abortion so the child would not grow up with the humiliation knowing they were conceived by rape and that their father is a priest.

She claimed that Luna kept scaring her, saying, “No one will believe you” and “I am above you.”

It is unknown when, or if, the jury will hear the testimony from the second victim.


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