Created: February 05, 2020 06:17 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— A former New Mexico Catholic priest who was acquitted of child rape is now walking free, but some victims feel that justice was not served.
Isaac Casados of Española was one of those people hanging on to hope that Marvin Archuleta would be found guilty. Casados said he suffered abuse at the hands of Archuleta in the early 1990s when he was an altar boy at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Santa Cruz.
“He would touch you on the chest, then on the leg, then he would brush his hands on your buttocks and it was though he was testing you—grooming you as to what comes next,” he said.
Casados said light touches evolved into full-on sexual assault.
“Marvin came behind and said ‘The back of your shirt is untucked and he slid his hands in the back of pants,” he said.
Casados kept the abuse to himself for years before he eventually told his close family members. It wasn’t until he learned about Archuleta’s arrest that he told investigators about his own experience.
“It was a shock to everybody in the community,” he said. “Nobody could fathom I was holding on this or so many years.”
Last year, the attorney general accused Archuleta of raping an altar boy under the age of 13 inside Holy Cross decades ago.
According to arrest documents, Archuleta poured holy water on the victim’s back while repeating the phrase, “This is God’s love. This is how we show God’s love.”
Prosecutors hoped that Casados’ testimony would be helpful in that rape victim’s case, but the judge wouldn’t allow his statements.
At least five other men made legal claims accusing Marvin Archuleta of sexual molestation, however the jury in this case were not permitted to know about those claims.
“In hearing some of the jury members, their responses were—they questioned how come other survivors didn't come forward who were molested or abused by Marvin Archuleta. Why weren't they a part of that trial?” Casados said.
In 2019, federal prosecutors secured a conviction against former priest Art Perrault. Part of the winning strategy for prosecutors was to have multiple people testify about their own abuses by Perrault.
Federal rules allow a jury to hear testimony from others with similar experiences in a way that state rules do not.
“I believe had the laws been on the victim's side or the survivors of clergy abuse, we would be in a different circumstance, we would be talking about a guilty verdict,” Casados said.
The alleged crimes that happened against Casados are out of the state’s statute of limitations, leaving him unable to seek criminal justice for what happened to him. That’s why it was so important to Casados that Archuleta be brought to justice in this case. Instead, the acquittal left Casados feeling shattered.
“I thought I was going to cry, but sorrow turned to anger, and anger turned to frustration and frustration moved to this feeling of complacency where you felt our judiciary system has done you wrong—that it had failed you,” he said.
The only way Marvin Archuleta would ever see prison time is if the attorney general knew of any claims that fell within the statute of limitations.
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