Priest accused again of abuse 2, 2005
By Joline Gutierrez Krueger

New allegations of sexual misconduct by a longtime Albuquerque priest are renewing efforts by a national organization to have Archbishop Michael Sheehan remove the priest from duty.

Officials with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, planned today to hand-deliver a letter to Sheehan at the chancery office in Albuquerque asking him to suspend the priest and to investigate the new allegations.

"Please remember what you and your brother bishops have repeatedly promised," the letter states. "To err on the side of children's safety, to remove a credibly accused cleric first from his current assignment until a more thorough investigation can be completed."

The priest has been accused in the past of other incidents of sexual molestation, many that were detailed in six letters sent to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1995.

The letters are from men who as boys attended a Roman Catholic middle school in Albuquerque in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The latest allegation surfaced within the last three days, SNAP's national director, David Clohessy, said.

The man, who now lives out of state, said that in the 1970s he was a Los Alamos teenager when his parents brought him to the priest for counseling after he had been raped at knifepoint near the Santa Fe Opera.

The priest, he said, had him disrobe in front of a mirror to re-enact the rape and then engaged the teen in sexual contact.

"His actions destroyed me," he said.

The man said he decided to come forward after his wife found information on the Internet about other allegations against the priest.

"I am prepared to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure (the priest) does not cause further harm to other innocent children," the man said.

Sheehan has said previously the allegations are not sufficiently credible, although in a June 23 letter written by Sheehan to clergy he refers to the priest's actions as "questionable."

A call to the archdiocese today was not returned.

Because no criminal charges have been filed, The Tribune is not naming the priest or the parish with which he is affiliated.

The priest has denied any wrongdoing and has been cleared twice by an Archdiocese Review Board, which investigates such allegations, said his attorney, Don Bruckner.

The June 23 letter confirms the priest was investigated twice by the review board and also passed a psychological evaluation.

"Since there was not credible evidence of sexual abuse, the review board indicated there was no reason to remove him from ministry," Sheehan wrote.

The archdiocese was rocked in the late 1980s and early '90s by allegations of sexual misconduct by priests, costing it an estimated $50 million in settlements before Sheehan took the helm in 1993.

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