4 Investigates: AG may take legal action against 3 dioceses that missed disclosure deadlines
October 10, 2018 09:30 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The three Catholic dioceses in New Mexico missed a disclosure deadline imposed by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, Balderas told KOB 4 Investigates.
On September 4, Balderas made an unprecedented move by sending letters to the Archbishop of Santa and the bishops of the Dioceses of Las Cruces and Gallup that demanded they turn over all documentation related to clergy abuse and how church leaders handled the abuses. Balderas gave the three church leaders one month to produce the documents.
“To the degree of allegations we are dealing with, I am seriously disappointed with the lack of transparency,” Balderas told KOB 4 Investigates. “At this point, they have provided some production, some documentation but I am requesting a full accounting of every type of alleged abuse for the last seven decades. No, we have not received full production and the church needs to do a better job of providing this information.”
Balderas has ordered investigators and attorneys in his office to conduct both a civil and criminal investigation into the church. Balderas said he is currently exploring legal options that would force the three dioceses to comply with his office’s demands.
“I have very little patience with this type of abuse, so I can tell you we are prepared to take legal action. But I am giving the church ample opportunity to step forward and provide a full accounting of information.”
As a response to Balderas’s public frustration, a spokesman for the Diocese of Las Cruces issued the following statement:
The Diocese of Las Cruces has pledged to cooperate with the AG's investigation and we are working to fulfill that pledge, however the volume of documents that the AG has asked for is quite large and could not be provided within the 30 day time line. We have reached out to and met with his staff as recently as last week to develop a schedule and protocol for fulfilling their demands. One difficulty that we are working with the AG's office to overcome is that some information that they have requested, employee medical records for example, cannot be provided by the diocese without breaking state and federal laws because the AG has stated in writing that all information the diocese provides will be made public. We are confident that we can overcome these obstacles with the cooperation of the AG but that will take a bit more time.
KOB also received a statement from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe late Tuesday night. It reads, "The Archdiocese has already met with top officials with the AG’s office, we have jointly established a system for cooperating with the request, and we have already begun producing documents to the AG.”
The Diocese of Gallup did not respond to a request for comment.
Attorneys working on the case at the AG’s office are still meeting with survivors of clergy abuse. They are interested in speaking with as many people as possible who have endured sexual abuse by a Catholic priest. Those wishing to speak with an investigator should call (505) 717-3512 or visit the AG's website.
Updated: October 10, 2018 09:30 AM
Created: October 09, 2018 09:08 PM
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