Cathedral Grad Alleges Sex Abuse
Former Principal Accused in Lawsuit against Diocese

By Tammy Fonce-Olivas
El Paso Times
March 5, 2003

A graduate of Cathedral High School is claiming he was sexually abused as a teenager by a former principal of the parochial all-boys school, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the El Paso Catholic Diocese and other parties.

Officials for the diocese wouldn't comment on the lawsuit because the case is in litigation. But a statement on behalf of the diocese and the Christian Brothers, the organization contracted to run the high school, stated that they are investigating the allegations.

"The diocese and the Christian Brothers would like all interested persons to know that they treat any allegation of sexual misconduct as a serious matter which will be promptly investigated and dealt with in a proper manner," the diocesan official Rev. John Stowe wrote. "As Pope John Paul II has stated, 'There is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young.' "

The lawsuit, filed in state district court, charges that the now-34-year-old man, whose identity is being withheld, was a sophomore at Cathedral in 1983 when the alleged sexual abuse abuse began by the then-principal, Brother Samuel F. Martinez. The alleged abused continued through 1985.

Martinez, who is also being named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was principal from 1976 to 1985, school records indicate. He couldn't be reached for comment.

The lawsuit also alleges that at one point in 1985 another "brother of the defendant order" walked in while the alleged abuse was taking place but didn't do anything to stop it.

Sylvia Demarest of Dallas, the man's lawyer, said her client didn't tell anyone about the sexual abuse because he was embarrassed and confused.

Demarest said the man suppressed the memories and developed a dependency on alcohol and drugs and developed psychotic behavior.

Demarest said memories of the alleged abuse came out in February 2002 while the man was undergoing counseling for drug abuse.

The charge is the latest scandal involving the church in the El Paso-Las Cruces region. Last summer, a longtime priest was removed from his pastoral and administrative duties because of alleged misconduct with a minor in 1973.


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