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New abuse suit filed against Catholic priest

SANTA FE – Yet another lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a Catholic priest was filed in District Court in Santa Fe on Wednesday, this one stemming from an incident decades ago when the alleged victim was a first grader at Holy Cross Catholic School in Santa Cruz east of Española.

The lawsuit was filed with pseudonym “John Doe” for the plaintiff to “protect him from further shame,” according to a news release by his attorney, Merit Bennett. The complaint alleges rape, assault and battery, obstruction and racketeering among the 25 counts.

“This is an organized crime,” Bennett, who has represented more than 100 victims in church abuse cases, said when asked about the racketeering charge. “It’s literally been going for 50 years, the church covering up these crimes and moving priests around.”

The list of defendants includes the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and former priest Marvin Archuleta, who was one of 74 priests, deacons and seminarians on a list of priests credibly accused of sex crimes against children released by the Archbishop John Wester last year.

According to list, Archuleta is believed to still be alive. ABC News reported in 2002 that he was then a priest in Mexico City.

Archuleta made the list because of a 1994 lawsuit accusing him of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1971. That lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

The Archdiocese provided a statement to the Journal Wednesday that says it does not publicly comment on pending litigation. “However, the archdiocese continues to be vigilant regarding sexual misconduct and stands firm on its zero tolerance policy. We pray for all who have been victims of the sad reality of sexual abuse,” it said.

Wednesday’s filing details an alleged incident that took place in the mid-1980s when the plaintiff was 6 or 7 years old.

According to the lawsuit, “John Doe” was one of three boys pulled out of their first-grade class ostensibly to be recruited as altar boys. The boys were taken to a back room of the church in Santa Cruz and offered punch and cookies. “John Doe” was separated from the other boys and left alone with Archuleta, who then raped him.

The lawsuit says that Archuleta told the boy he was not being punished, but “this is how God loves you.”

“Over the years following the assault, Plaintiff started drinking alcohol regularly, escalating into drug use,” the complaint states. It goes on to say the alleged victim overdosed on drugs on multiple occasions and was in and out of treatment centers. It wasn’t until 2016 when he realized that there was a connection between being raped as a boy and his drug and alcohol addiction, chronic depression and failure to sustain intimate relationships, according to the complaint.