Man Abused by Priest Has No Case against State Officials, Court Says

Associated Press
July 17, 1999

A man who was sexually abused as a teen-ager by a priest at a program for troubled boys has no case against two former state officials, the Court of Appeals has ruled.

The man, identified only as John Doe, sued former Corrections Secretary Howard Leach and former Deputy Secretary Felix Rodriguez.

He claimed the officials were told of sexual abuse allegations against the Rev. Edward Donelan after the priest left his job in July 1970 as chaplain of the New Mexico Boys' School in Springer. The officials notified the archbishop but no law enforcement agencies, Doe said.

Doe contended their failure to report the allegations allowed Donelan to continue working as director of Hacienda de los Muchachos in Albuquerque, where he abused Doe from February 1971 to June 1973.

Doe had been placed at the home, which was a facility of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, by relatives.

Doe claimed the corrections officials violated his federal constitutional rights. But the appeals court, in a ruling issued Thursday, said the officials had no clearly established constitutional duty to protect Doe, and ordered a lower court to enter a judgment in their favor.

Doe's lawyer, Damon Ely of Albuquerque, said he would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Doe had also sued the priest and the archdiocese; settlement was reached on those claims.

Donelan died in 1994.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.