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Lawsuits accuse 40 priests of pedophilia

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two lawsuits filed Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe took the unusual step of naming 40 alleged pedophile priests to show “patterns and practices of conduct” by the archdiocese that led to the sexual abuse of children.

The new complaints bring to 21 the total number of lawsuits filed against the archdiocese since 2012 by Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall on behalf of unidentified 20 men and a woman. Of those, 11 have been settled for undisclosed amounts, he said.

The lawsuits also call for the archdiocese to release documents showing the transfer of priests between parishes and to cite reasons for the transfers.

“Archbishop (Michael) Sheehan claims in the media a legacy of stopping the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the 1990s and 2000s, but still has not provided documents and transparency about the extent of the culture” that led to the abuses, the lawsuits contend.

The suits also contend that the archdiocese “did not go into each parish where these priests had been assigned and try to locate and help victims” in the 1990s and 2000s, when an estimated 200 lawsuits were filed against the archdiocese.

The archdiocese did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

The two new lawsuits, both filed in state District Court in Albuquerque, contend that two unnamed Bernalillo County men were raped by priests at parishes in Albuquerque.

Each lawsuit lists 40 names identified as priests charged with “credible allegations” of sexual abuse. The list is intended to bolster the claim that the archdiocese had “a culture that allowed and fostered sexual predation” in the 1960s through the 1980s, Hall said.

In one lawsuit, a man alleged he was raped in 1986 by the Rev. Sabine Griego, who served as pastor of Queen of Heaven parish from 1979 to 1991.

The alleged victim contends he was a 17-year-old freshman at the University of New Mexico and considering a vocation as a priest at the time of the attack, the suit said. He dropped out of UNM shortly after the attack and abandoned plans to become a priest.

A lawsuit filed in 1993 alleged that then-Archbishop Robert Sanchez transferred Griego to Albuquerque in 1979 after allegations surfaced that he had molested boys in Las Vegas, N.M.

Griego resigned from Queen of Heaven in 1991 after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him there. He was later suspended by the archdiocese.

The Journal was unable to reach Griego for comment on Wednesday.

In the other suit, a man alleged he was raped 50 to 80 times for over a year in the late 1960s by the Rev. Walter Cassidy, then pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Cassidy also pastored at churches in Taos and Mora. He died in 1994.

Cassidy also was identified as the attacker in two previous sex abuse lawsuits filed by Hall on behalf of a man and a woman.

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