Priest Accused in 1970s Abuse Case
Lawsuit Says Dona Ana County Boy Molested

By Paul Logan
Albuquerque Journal [New Mexico]
August 7, 2004

A Roman Catholic priest is accused of sexually molesting a southern New Mexico boy in the mid-1970s, according to a U.S. District Court complaint.

The Rev. Manuel Perez Maramba and the Diocese of El Paso were named as defendants in the lawsuit filed July 23 in Albuquerque.

Plaintiffs John Doe I and his parents, John Doe II and Jane Do I, live in Dona Ana County. They were not named in the document "to prevent further embarrassment and humiliation."

The five-count complaint includes battery, negligence, infliction of emotional distress and breach of fiduciary duty.

It claims that Maramba, also known as "Dom Benildo," "repeatedly sexually molested and abused and performed a variety of non-consensual sex acts on John Doe I" in 1976 and 1977.

Maramba, a citizen of the Philippines, now resides in the Philippines, the complaint said.

The diocese failed to guard against or warn the plaintiffs of the danger Maramba presented, the complaint said.

In a court filing, the diocese denies the allegations.

Attorneys for both parties could not be reached for comment Friday.

An affidavit filed July 23 for current Bishop Armando X. Ochoa said the Most Rev. Sidney Metzger, who is dead, served as bishop of the diocese from 1942 to 1978.

The Texas-based diocese had jurisdiction over southern New Mexico until the Las Cruces Diocese was formed in 1983.

An El Paso diocese spokesman could not be reached Friday for comment.

The Diocese of El Paso has had 56 sexual abuse allegations in 52 years. It has also spent more than $4 million to pay costs associated to the lawsuits, according to a February report by El Paso TV station KVIA.

"Even one child being molested is much too much ... It's a sad day for the church," Ochoa said in the report.


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