Psychologist Alleges Patient Had Affair with Archbishop

Associated Press
March 12, 1993

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A psychologist says a former patient remains devastated by a sexual relationship she says she had with Archbishop Robert Sanchez almost 20 years ago.

John Salazar said Thursday that the woman sought treatment from him in 1979, claiming her three-year affair with Sanchez began shortly after she graduated from high school and after Sanchez became archbishop. He was appointed in 1974.

Salazar counseled priests with sexual disorders at a retreat in Jemez Springs from 1963 until 1968, when the church stopped using his services.

Salazar said the woman, whose name he withheld, told him during their 25 or 30 therapy sessions, that "she had been seduced into forming a love relationship with the archbishop" and that he promised to leave the priesthood and marry her.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ryland said she couldn't reach Sanchez for comment late Thursday.

Archdiocese chancellor Ron Wolf said this week that Sanchez had acknowledged that he had relationships with women, but did not say whether the relationships were sexual.

Sanchez, 58, apologized publicly Tuesday for any harm the allegations caused.

At least three woman have told CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" that they had sexual relations with Sanchez during the 1970s and early 1980s. Salazar said his patient was among those interviewed by the news program.

Salazar said the woman, now in her 30s, told him that the archbishop visited Rome to seek counseling and advice.

"She thought it was to go and work out the details of final dispensation of the vows, but when he came back, he had been talked into staying in the priesthood," Salazar said. It was then the relationship ended.

Salazar said it wasn't until later that his patient learned that Sanchez allegedly had been seeing other women.

"It was a betrayal," he said. "For her it was a genuine love affair. For him apparently it wasn't."

Salazar said his patient left the Roman Catholic church over the alleged affair. He said he still is in contact with her and that she remains traumatized.

Salazar, who is himself Catholic, said the church stopped using his services 25 years ago because he "got to know too much" and because he had warned the church that he would tell police of sexual abuse incidents.

He has accused the church of an "unspoken conspiracy of silence" in covering up sexual misconduct and abuse by priests.

Sanchez awaits word from the Vatican on his future. Monsignor Piero Pennacchini, a Vatican spokesman in Rome, said Thursday the Vatican was awaiting further information before commenting.

Wolf has said that he expected some action would be taken against Sanchez, but he didn't think the archbishop would leave the church.


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