Civil law­suit filed against for­mer priest

Seven plain­tiffs al­lege sex­ual abuse by Sabine Griego

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM - BY MAG­GIE SHEP­ARD JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

Since law en­force­ment never filed rape and mo­lesta­tion charges against for­mer Catholic priest Sabine Griego, seven peo­ple who say they are vic­tims of his sex­ual abuse are now tak­ing up the mis­sion of ac­count­abil­ity in a civil law­suit filed last week.

Doc­u­ments re­leased un­der court or­der by the Arch­dio­cese of Santa Fe in a sep­a­rate civil law­suit show that by 2017 the arch­dio­cese had reached set­tle­ment agree­ments with 32 New Mex­i­cans who al­leged that Griego sex­u­ally abused them as chil­dren. The Arch­dio­cese faces dozens of suits re­gard­ing its role in cov­er­ing up pe­dophile priest be­hav­ior.

This suit, filed May 9 in 4th Ju­di­cial District Court in Las Ve­gas by Al­bu­querque at­tor­neys Brad Hall and Levi Mona­gle, tar­gets Griego as an in­di­vid­ual. It al­leges he raped, abused and mo­lested

six male chil­dren and one fe­male child at his home, in his car, at the churches he worked at and at his mother’s home in Las Ve­gas over decades.

The seven plain­tiffs, now all New Mex­ico res­i­dents in their 50s, are in ad­di­tion to vic­tims iden­ti­fied by the church who were abused by Griego and by two other priests, Ja­son Sigler and Arthur Per­rault, who have been named in dozens of civil law­suits dat­ing to the 1990s.

Griego, who lives in Las Ve­gas, did not re­turn a phone call seek­ing com­ment.

Sim­i­lar law­suits tar­get­ing in­di­vid­ual abu­sive priests — not the Church — have suc­ceeded around the na­tion, net­ting mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar set­tle­ments.

In New Mex­ico in 2017, vic­tim Ken­neth Wolter was awarded $16 mil­lion from for­mer priest Arthur Per­rault, who is in ex­ile in Morocco.

He likely won’t see any of the money, at­tor­ney Mona­gle said.

“(These vic­tims), they aren’t do­ing this for money. They know Sabine Griego likely doesn’t have as­sets. For them, it’s about sort of ad­dress­ing the fail­ing of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. They un­der­stand they are likely not go­ing to re­cover funds, but they’ll be in a po­si­tion to pub­licly lay out the abuse that he made them suf­fer,” Mona­gle said. “And there is power in peo­ple hav­ing to grap­ple with the fact that we have seven peo­ple here, seven vic­tims here who were abused at dif­fer­ent times and dif­fer­ent places but who can tes­tify to sim­i­lar things about Griego, about what he said, how he acted.”

In the suit, Hall and Mona­gle say that “many of the Griego vic­tims in this case have gone to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice with their sworn in­for­ma­tion, but have been told that un­der New Mex­ico crim­i­nal ju­rispru­dence, the statute of lim­i­ta­tions for po­ten­tial charges against this pe­dophile priest has now run, and that Sabine Griego will not be ar­rested for rap­ing them when they were chil­dren.”

Most crim­i­nal of­fenses against chil­dren have a three-year statute of lim­i­ta­tions.

“The Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral is ac­tively seek­ing in­for­ma­tion for cases that sur­vive the statute of lim­i­ta­tions and we are com­mit­ted to in­ves­ti­gat­ing, ap­pre­hend­ing, and pros­e­cut­ing per­pe­tra­tors of sex­ual abuse to the great­est ex­tent al­lowed by law,” James Hal­li­nan, spokesman for the at­tor­ney gen­eral, wrote in a state­ment. “The Of­fice has re­viewed sev­eral al­le­ga­tions against Sabine Griego and found that, trag­i­cally, the statute of lim­i­ta­tions cre­ated by the leg­is­la­ture pre­vents any of­fice in New Mex­ico from pros­e­cut­ing the in­ci­dents re­viewed, which oc­curred in the 1970s and 1980s.”

The statute of lim­i­ta­tions for civil law­suits re­gard­ing child­hood sex­ual abuse is “three years from the date that a per­son first dis­closed the per­son’s child­hood sex­ual abuse to a li­censed med­i­cal or men­tal health care provider in the con­text of re­ceiv­ing health care from the provider,” ac­cord­ing to a state law en­acted in 2017.

This law­suit says that each of the seven plain­tiffs has in the past three years dis­closed their abuse and trauma to a ther­a­pist.

Sabine Griego

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