Two New Priest Abuse Cases

Two New Priest Abuse Cases

'The Archdiocese caused the abuse of Plaintiff by, among other things, empowering priests to abuse minors' - abuse plaintiff's suit

Santa Fe Archdiocese Hit with Two New Sex Lawsuits

Former alter boys say higher-ups knew, did nothing

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

Two Albuquerque area men have filed lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe alleging they were sexually abused by Catholic priests when they were altar boys.

The lawsuits were filed on Nov. 9 in Bernalillo County District Court in Albuquerque. They bring to 62 the number of lawsuits that have been filed against the Catholic church in the state since 2010. Since the early-to-mid-1990s, more than 300 priest sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic church in New Mexico, said attorney Levi Monagle, who along with attorney Brad Hall filed the recent lawsuits.

Seductions

The first lawsuit was filed by a man identified as John Doe 61 who said that while an altar boy at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish he was abused raped in 1970 and 1971 by Edward J. Rutowski.

The second suit alleged that John Doe 62 was abused by Jason Sigler at the St. Therese of the Infant Jesus parish. The suit did not say how old the plaintiff is or when the alleged abuse occurred.

Sigler has been the subject of numerous sexual abuse lawsuits and was defrocked, or laicized, in the 1980s. He served nine years in a Michigan prison after pleading guilty in 2003 to molesting two boys. He lives on Albuquerque’s West Side.

Monagle said Rutowski is dead, but didn’t know when he died.

The lawsuits said that the diocese knew that both priests were abusers and that it did nothing to warn parishioners about them or to protect children who dealt with them. Indeed, the archdiocese engaged in a pattern of secrecy to protect pedophile priests, the suits said.

“The Archdiocese caused the abuse of Plaintiff by, among other things, empowering priests to abuse minors, and adhering to policies and practices of secrecy to protect abusive priests and the Archdiocese from scandal,” John Doe 62’s lawsuit said. “Adherence to these policies and practices of secrecy was more important to the Defendants than warning parishioners of sexually abusive priests in their midst, which would have promoted safety and accountability. At no time did any Defendant report Fr. Sigler to law enforcement prior to the abuse of Plaintiff.”

John Doe 61’s lawsuit said: “But for the conduct of the ADSF and its agents and supervisors, Plaintiff would not have been raped and abused at Nativity Parish in Alameda by Fr. Rutowski.

“Defendants engaged in a pattern and practice of keeping secret from the public and from parishioners the dangerous backgrounds of the pedophile priests assigned to New Mexico parishes, schools and hospitals. Fr. Rutowski was not dangerous because he was gay, but was very dangerous because he sexually abused children, often with his partner. These patterns and practices are designed to protect and empower its agents, prevent scandal which could hurt donations and income, and imbue priests with substantial power over the lives of parishioners.”

The lawsuits ask for an unspecified amount of damages.

in the 1990s, Archdiocese officials said the lawsuits filed in the courts at that time cost up to $50 million to settle.

 

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Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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