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New Mexico judge orders release of clergy sex abuse records

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has released hundreds of pages of court records related to sexual abuse allegations against clergy members in response to an order from a New Mexico judge, marking the largest disclosure of such records since alleged victims began suing the archdiocese nearly three decades ago.

Church officials said in a statement issued after Wednesday’s (Oct. 18) release that they hope the disclosure along with the recent publication of a list of clergy accused of sexual misconduct will serve as an additional step in healing for survivors, their families and parishioners.

The documents include letters showing church leaders knew of sexual abuse allegations that had been leveled against three priests from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Judge Alan Malott

Judge Alan Malott’s order stems from a request by KOB-TV , which intervened in several abuse cases for the purpose of obtaining the records. The Albuquerque station had argued that much of the information should no longer be guarded by a court-protected confidentiality order.

“I think it’s important because it gives people who have been abused the concrete validation of their claims,” Levi Monagle, an attorney for some of the victims. “It’s one thing to know your own truth, but it’s another thing to see that truth acknowledged by people in the highest positions of power within an institution like the church.”

The records paint a picture of a diocese that repeatedly assigned priests accused of sexually abusing children to posts where they could abuse again, the Albuquerque Journal reported. The records include letters and reports from psychologists to church leaders that detail allegations against the three priests.

Former priests Jason Sigler and Sabine Griego still live in New Mexico, while Arthur Perrault fled the country.

Perrault, who is alleged to have sexually abused at least 38 boys in New Mexico, was recommended for a teaching post at St. Pius X High School in 1966 by a psychologist under contract with the Servants of the Paraclete, a religious order that ran a treatment center for pedophile priests in Jemez Springs, N.M.

Records show Perrault was sent to Jemez Springs in 1965 after he was accused of molesting young men while serving in Connecticut.

Perrault ignited the clerical abuse scandal in New Mexico when he vanished from his Albuquerque parish in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese alleging Perrault had sexually assaulted seven children at his parish.

Perrault turned up last year in Morocco, working at an English-language school for children, where he was subsequently fired. It is not clear where he is now.

In the court documents amassed on Sigler, attorney Brad Hall counts at least 63 young male victims. Hall has filed more than 70 lawsuits since 2011 on behalf of alleged clerical abuse victims.

The Journal reported that Sigler was never reprimanded by the church and was instead thanked for his service when he decided to leave the priesthood to get married.

Sigler was the only one to be convicted and is on the state’s sex offender registry. He did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

According to Hall’s records, Griego is accused of assaulting 32 children at New Mexico parishes. Griego declined to comment when reached by phone.

Former Archbishop Michael Sheehan wrote in a 2004 memorandum that Griego’s case is extraordinary because of the “sheer volume and heinous nature of the accusations.” Payments to 17 of Griego’s victims approached $3 million, he wrote.

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23 Comments

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  • $3 million for 17 victims, less attorney’s fees, does not even begin to cover the damage done and the necessary healing. It would also have been helpful if the link to the released documents was provided as well.

  • Upon further review of the information in the legal documents, though cursory, it is apparent that the RCC of NM had plenty of time to do a Dolan by nefarious financial changes. That being, turn each church where the abusers committed their crimes into its own legal “entity” rather than as a parish of the local Archdioceses. In effect they have attempted to put up financial barriers to prevent those abused from claiming certain monies and localize the liabilities to the parish itself rather than the AD.

    And they wonder why everyone is disgusted. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY is all they worship.

  • Of course the church and all these bishops knew what was going on. It was more important to protect the church than the victims and their families.

    And how could the church and the bishops not have known that these actions by these priests were crimes? Clearly, they didn’t think they have to obey silly civil laws. After all, those silly civil laws were not made by god.

    What those offending priests did to the victims, the church as a whole has been doing to lay society for hundreds of years.

  • A continuing blot and stain on the officers’ of the RCC, I can’t fathom what would have caused them to pursue such a course…it is not in keeping with the transparency required of Christians in the acts and operation of their faith.

  • Clerical sex abuse should have been Job One for Pope Francis. Instead, he has obstructed two UN committees, personally protected Archbishop Wesolowski and Fr. Corradi among others and dozens of bishops worldwide who covered-up and obstructed justice. Thanks to RNS and the U.S. media for always protecting him, this keeps going on and on around the world.

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2284: “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.” The RCC has always put a strong emphasis on avoiding scandal as it causes people to turn away from God. Moreover, it undermines the teaching authority of the Church (i.e., threatens its power and influence). Whenever a scandal arises the tendency is to protect the Church first (as the greater good) and care for the victim second. After all, without the Church how will the Gospel be proclaimed and the Church’s many ministries continued? However, such protection naturally means denial and cover-up, and doing whatever it takes to avoid the awareness of scandal spreading. They say heresy happens when a good teaching is carried to an extreme. The RCC’s current understanding of scandal is a modern heresy.

  • Why is that court being so mean to those poor priests? As a Belgian archbishop observed, after molesting his own nephews, there is “nothing wrong in taking comfort with children.”

  • If anyone thought the ongoing, worldwide sexual abuse scandals of pedophile priests shaking the roman catholic church [and others] or the corruptions within the Curia would disappear because of a affable sounding pope and the soft PR and populist spin coming out of the Vatican they were sadly mistaken. Yet however abominable this institutional and individual betrayal may be, it will look a mere trifle compared to the perfect storm that appears to be on the way.

    The question has become this: could two thousand years of scholastic exegesis, tradition and the faith of millions be wholly in error? And no longer just a rhetorical question for mud slinging between atheist and religious, we are on the threshold of discovering that answer! More at http://www.energon.org.uk

  • Don’t forget the fact that the church also LOVES power and LOVES to tell others how to live their lives.

  • The Albuquerque Journal found it suitable to make this history front page news at a time when the previous Democratic administration in Washington is coming under scrutiny for connivance with the Russian government – uranium, 145 million dollars donated to the Clintons – no news there.
    While RNS revels in this resurrected scandal you will want to keep in mind that the perpetrators numbered four percent of priests – considerably less than the number of non-Catholic pastoral practitioners involved in the abuse of minors – and their number considerably less than the percentage of heterosexual married men abusing minors.
    The notion that sexual abuse is the monopoly of Roman Catholicism is erroneous and dangerous. You might well begin you investigative efforts with the insurance companies that cover religious denominations. I’m afraid the picture would not suit anti-Catholic and non-Catholic expectations. For example, within the past few months it was announced the Anglican Church in Australia is under investigation for over 1200 cases of sexual abuse — and this number discovered with far less scrutiny being brought to bear than the unrelenting attack the Roman Catholic Church persistently endures. Other protestant sects are bearing
    the same fruit down under. Would that the raking light be brought to bear on the front pages of the US and the EU.
    The scandal within Roman Catholicism, which is real, might also be looked at from another perspective to give it a three dimensional reality. The vast majority of those abused were teenaged boys and young men. If I’m not mistaken they account for just less than 90% of the victims and that behavior is termed ephebophilia. Pedophilia – the abuse of prepubescent children accounts for less than five percent of the victims of Roman Catholic priests.
    Less than four percent of priests took part in this hideous tragedy – but more than eighty-five percent of those four percent were contact between priests and teenaged males. So, more accurately, one might look at “the scandal” as a homosexual scandal – I don’t see anyone laying this at the door of our gay brothers and the community of sexual license that is to be found everywhere in the media, the entertainment industry and the academy.
    By far most pedophiles and ephebophiles are married men. I once saw cited a statistic that physicians and farmers were the most likely perpetrators of abuse against children and teenagers. Then of course there is the problem of the local public school. Of all professions clergy are the least likely to perpetrate, and of all clergy, Roman Catholic priests are the least likely of all.
    Ninety-six percent of priests are making a virtuous life their habitation under difficult cultural circumstances. Doubtlessly the other four percent were trying while enduring grave moral
    weakness.
    So there remains one big filthy secret to be uncovered when lawyers, journalists and other hacks need a few more bucks. Including those who have a penchant for false accusation. Over one-third of the accusations made against Roman Catholic priests have been proved manifestly false. How many more are?
    While the Roman Catholic hierarchy is culpable for remaining silent in the face of this
    abhorrent scandal, there is the need to contextualize this. It is only in recent decades that cultural norms allow for any frank public discussion of human sexuality, let alone the current of homosexuality and anyone’s abuse of the vulnerable.
    Protestant communities remain without self-acknowledgement of the scandal within their own ranks. I am not edified. Are you?

  • It is important to have these records made public because often the details of these rapes are so horrible the Church wants to keep these hidden for fear that if the details are made public people would be so horrified they would stop donating to the Church. Such was the case in 17th Century when an entire teach order of priests and brothers was suppressed to keep hidden the details of the rapes of boys throughout Italy in the schools these men ran.

  • I think that the Catechism you cite is clearly both an error in tactics and strategy, and brings greater harm to Catholicism than the frank admission of sin and its consequences committed by its ministers. I am at a loss to understand why they pursue this course as there is no biblical warrant for it. The composers of such catechisms are supposed to be experts in the interpretation of God’s Word, that appears not to be the case.

  • I’ve recommended that book to many people many times. You might also want to look up St. Peter Damien.

  • There is much truth and so much crazy in your post. I wish you would separate the two.

    “By far most pedophiles and ephebophiles are married men.” Absolutely the case. Also, according to the John Jay report to the catholic bishops, 73% of the children abused by priests were 14 and under. You can call them young men and teenagers all you wish, but it doesn’t change anything except where the finger wants ot get pointed.
    Most were boys because that’s who priests have access to. And no, that makes it most definitely NOT a “homosexual scandal”, but a Catholic scandal. And the scandal isn’t so much the abusive priests– that’s been going on for at least 1000 years– but the coverups, which have also been going on for that long.
    And from a theological point of view, one cannot be a priest with a vocation, a literal calling from god. So is god calling pedophiles to the priesthood, or is it all just bunk?

  • The John Jay Report is an informative pieces of work, but it is decidedly skewed by an agenda. That was made very clear at its presentation. It is framed by political correctness. It reminds me of years back when it was solemnly declared by the “academy” that 10% of males were homosexuals.
    No. You need to contextualize the JJR as to what its purpose was and how it was influenced by political and cultural currents.
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/reactions-to-the-john-jay-report
    You appear to see, read and understand what suits you. You do yourself an extraordinary disservice.
    That won’t do.

  • Thanks. I will look him up. There is also a quote of St John Chrysostom written end of 2nd Century. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down the source when I saw it many years ago. I believe this is the document that is mentioned but not named in Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In the House of God. The quote is: The molestation of children by clerics has become so common place that people just accept it. And don’t forget the film partly subsidized by the Canadian Government The Boys of St Vincent about the sexual abuse of boys in Catholic orphanages in Newfoundland which broke in the 1980’s as I recall. In this case the Provincial Government appointed a Royal Commission, there were public hearings at which the horrors of the on going abuses were made public and many of the abusers were sentenced.

  • Whenever people see one thing they don’t wish to see, they call it political correctness. And then they accuse others of their own sins.

    If you have some evidence that the JJR was inaccurate and framed by political correctness, then please present it. that particular article I’ve read before, and all it does is harp on the myth that you yourself point out— that it is a homosexual clergy that is the problem. The Family Research Council claims exactly the same thing, and they Claim it by ignoring actual facts in favor of an agenda of extreme bias towards gay men.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have time now. The Boy Scouts claimed the same thing for the decades of their abuse scandals, ignoring nuance and fact in favor of an agenda, which suddenly, when they were facing some real losses of money and membership, turned out not to be true,

    Not that it ever was, but it’s useful.

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