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State wants ex-priest charged with rape to stay in jail

SANTA FE – Prosecutors are asking that a former priest at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Española remain in jail pending trial on charges of kidnapping and rape of a 6 or 7-year-old boy in the mid-1980s.

Marvin Archuleta, 81, was arrested in Albuquerque on Friday after spending decades on the lam. Because the charges are first degree felonies, there is no statute of limitations against prosecution.


Marvin Archuleta

In a motion filed on Monday before Archuleta made a video appearance at an arraignment hearing in Santa Fe Magistrate Court, the state Attorney General’s Office argued that Archuleta posed a threat to other children, was a flight risk and should be kept in jail pending trial.

But someone apparently has known where Archuleta was at least since November. A court filing by the AG’s Office indicates that the former priest was interviewed on Nov. 29 and that a recording of the interview will be part of the evidence at an upcoming detention hearing.

A spokesman for the AG’s office said he couldn’t say more about the interview or who conducted it, other than that the office has undertaken a “wide-ranging” investigation of alleged sexual abuse by priests over the last two years.

According to a motion for pretrial detention, Archuleta fled to Mexico in the mid-1990s after church officials were notified of a civil claim against the priest alleging improper sexual activity with children. The motion states that Archuleta has “international ties” and that “one can reasonably infer he developed reliable contacts willing to assist him.”

The motion also states that Archuleta was most recently living at the Sun Village Apartments, adjacent to Albuquerque High School, and that returning him to a location so close to the school was a “recipe for disaster.”

At Monday’s hearing, Archuleta appeared from the Santa Fe County jail by video hookup and was using a walker. He started to ask Judge David Segura about needing time to make arrangements for housing but was cut off by Segura, who told him that as magistrate judge he could not address issues having to do with conditions of release. The judge said Archuleta faces up to 30 years in prison on each of his two felony counts, for rape and kidnapping.

The charges stem from an alleged incident at the Catholic church in Santa Cruz, part of Española, during which Archuleta and another unnamed priest pulled three boys out of a first-grade class ostensibly to be recruited as altar boys. Archuleta and one of the boys, identified as “John Doe A” in court documents, were left alone in the back room of another building. Archuleta allegedly used a belt to restrain the boy while he raped him and repeated “This is God’s love; this is how we show God’s love.” A civil lawsuit over the alleged rape was filed last year.

Archuleta was one of 74 priests, deacons and seminarians on a list of “credibly accused” sexual predators released by the archdiocese last year. An earlier lawsuit, from 1994, had accused him of sexually abusing a 14-year-old altar boy while on a trip to Washington, D.C. in 1971.

The motion by the AG’s office filed Monday states that this boy was molested in “motel room after motel room across the country” in what the victim later described as a “two-week nightmare.” The old civil case was settled for an undisclosed amount of money.

No bond for Archuleta was set Monday. He is due back in Magistrate Court for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 20, but also is expected to also appear before a higher-level district court judge within five days.