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5 more sue Archdiocese of Santa Fe over abuse

unnamedSANTA FE, N.M. — Five more victims are suing the Archdiocese of Santa Fe over allegations that priests sexually abused them as young children and teens — the latest in a growing list of accusers who say the church did little to stop widespread abuse in New Mexico decades ago.

Lawsuits filed against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe this week allege that four men, ages 46 to 52, and a 54-year-old woman, were abused by priests as children.

The five priests named all were the subject of previous lawsuits dating to the 1990s, including Jason Sigler, 76, who returned to Albuquerque last year after completing a prison term in Michigan.

The new actions bring to 30 the total number of lawsuits filed against the archdiocese by Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall since October 2011. Of those, 14 have been settled for undisclosed amounts, he said.

Each lawsuit alleges that the archdiocese “knew or should have known” that the priest had been accused of prior sexual misbehavior, but church leaders did nothing to prevent attacks or warn parishioners.

A 46-year-old California man alleges in a lawsuit that he was a parishioner at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Las Vegas in 1984 when he was sexually abused by the late Michael O'Brien in 1984.

In all, 17 of Hall's lawsuits identify O'Brien, who pastored at churches in Ranchos de Taos, Mora, Las Vegas and Questa from 1977 to 1989. Nine of those suits have been settled. O'Brien died in 1993.

A 50-year-old Las Vegas man alleged he had served as an altar boy at Immaculate Conception Church in Las Vegas when Sigler sexually abused him from 1973-76, a lawsuit contends.

Sigler, a central figure in clerical abuse lawsuits filed in New Mexico in the 1990s, served nine years in a prison after he was convicted of molesting four boys in two Michigan dioceses in the 1970s. New Mexico's sex offender registry shows Sigler lists a Taylor Ranch address as his home. He could not be reached for comment.

A 47-year-old Las Vegas man alleged he was abused in the late 1970s by the Rev. Sabine Griego, then-pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Las Vegas.

A 1993 lawsuit alleged that then-Archbishop Robert Sanchez transferred Griego to Albuquerque in 1979 after allegations surfaced that he had molested boys in Las Vegas. Griego could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuits all were filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque on behalf of unnamed plaintiffs. The others are:

• A 52-year-old Las Vegas man alleged he was abused by the Rev. Clive Lynn about 1977 at an unidentified parish. Lynn reportedly moved to Great Britain in the 1980s.

• A 54-year-old woman alleged she was sexually abused by the late Walter Cassidy from 1968-70 when she attended catechism classes at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Albuquerque. Cassidy died in 1994.

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