Priest Pleads No Contest, Asks for Probation

By Avery Holton and Joline Gutierrez Krueger
Albuquerque Tribune (New Mexico)
August 2, 2002

A Roman Catholic priest accused of hiring children for prostitution pleaded no contest today in state District Court in Albuquerque to five counts of misdemeanor attempted criminal solicitation to tamper with evidence in a case long cloistered in secrecy and twisted in legal wranglings.

The Rev. Robert Malloy, 45, agreed to seek counseling and asked the court for probation not to exceed five years as part of his plea agreement.

A throng of supporters, mostly involved with Malloy through church, gathered outside the district courtroom where Malloy made his plea. When he walked out of the courtroom and the plea was announced, the supporters smiled and wished Malloy well.

"This puts a fair end to a long-contested case," Malloy's attorney, Ray Twohig, said. "A probated sentence is appropriate, and in this case, certainly called for."

Malloy was originally indicted in February 1999 on 42 counts that included hiring children for prostitution, criminal solicitation and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

In today's plea agreement, Malloy acknowledged that his guilt could be proven on five of the original 19 counts of attempted criminal solicitation to tamper with evidence. He waived his right to a trial and was released on his own recognizance by Judge Frank Allen Jr. until his sentencing on Sept. 20.

"Don't be fooled by numbers and titles," Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Paone said after the plea agreement dropped 37 of the original counts, including all charges involving prostitution. "Look at the result. He will be under scrutiny for five years.

"It's a good resolution for both the victims in this case and the community."

By pleading no contest, Malloy acknowledged that a court case could have proven him guilty on five separate charges that involved five different teenage boys ages 13-15. In the plea, Malloy acknowledged he had written letters of a sexual nature to each of the boys between 1997 and 1998. In the letters, Malloy told each of the boys they should destroy the notes after reading them, the plea stated.

"This was a letter-writing case from the beginning," Twohig said. "It was blown totally out of proportion. . . . Now we have a fair resolution."

In the tortuous history of the case, Malloy was freed on $12,000 bond after his December 1998 arrest on charges that he hired or attempted to hire Albuquerque teens for sex between 1994 and 1998.

Malloy, a former pastor of Queen of Heaven Catholic Church and a one-time Albuquerque police chaplain, was relieved of his duties by the church's archbishop shortly after the initial indictments.

"I'm not sure what the church plans on doing now," Twohig said. "The archbishop has placed his (Malloy's) status as fired."

The original indictments listed 14 unnamed teenage victims, allegedly hired as sex partners, potential sex partners, assistants who aided in hiding the acts or youths associated in some fashion with Malloy in a way that caused their "delinquency."

Since then, however, the case had taken a number of turns that kept it revolving in and out of the judicial system and kept the documents in the case sealed.

Appeals in the case largely centered on the sealing and redacting of search warrants and other court documents in the case.

Those documents remain sealed after today's proceedings, and it was unclear whether the plea agreement might forever keep the public from knowing the exact nature of the accusations against Malloy and who might have been involved.

Last February, Malloy's case was dismissed as part of what became known as the Ulibarri ruling by the state Supreme Court, which essentially tossed out hundreds of cases because of improper grand jury instruction practices.

Prosecutors said at the time that they planned to re-indict Malloy. Paone and District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said negotiations for a plea agreement had been under way for some time.

Before his arrest, Malloy had a reputation as an exemplary chaplain and priest, one who parents said made a point to show up for all school events and who police said helped talk people out of committing suicide.

Malloy was ordained May 21, 1983, an Archdiocese of Santa Fe spokeswoman said. His first assignment was at Our Lady of Sorrows parish in Las Vegas, N.M. He went on to serve in Albuquerque as parochial vicar at Holy Ghost, Annunciation and Assumption parishes before being named pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in June 1991.

In March 1995, Malloy became pastor at Queen of Heaven, 5311 Phoenix Ave. N.E., a homecoming of sorts for a priest who as a child had been a student there.

Malloy grew up in Albuquerque, living in the same home on Alvarado Drive Northeast with his parents all his life with the exception of the four years he spent away at college.

Malloy also had been a volunteer chaplain with the Albuquerque Police Department for more than 10 years.


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