Catholic Diocese of El Paso faces more allegations of sex abuse

The El Paso Times/May 5, 2010

El Paso - The El Paso Catholic Diocese is facing more lawsuits by people who claim they were sexually abused by priests in El Paso and Southern New Mexico.

One law firm, T.O. Gilstrap Jr., has represented or is representing 11 alleged victims in the border region. Of these, six cases were settled, one is on appeal and four are pending.

On April 13, a man identified by the pseudonym "John Doe" filed suit against Manuel Perez Maramba and Rosario Lopez, two former priests who served in Las Cruces. His suit accuses the Catholic Church "of fostering an environment and culture where abuse of children could flourish and in which it was clearly understood that there was no accountability for criminal acts toward children."

The suit alleges that church officials conspired to conceal sexual abuse of children and failed to report it to legal authorities. In addition, John Doe alleges that the abuse led to a lifetime of emotional agony and problems in his relationships with women and his children.

El Paso Catholic Diocese officials said they do not comment on pending litigation.

In recent weeks, the Vatican has come under criticism for its policies on how dioceses were to handle complaints involving sex abuse by priests.

The Catholic Church in the United States has paid nearly $3 billion in settlements and legal fees. Payments have bankrupted several dioceses across the country.

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