New Mexico AG seeks to review church personnel files | KOB 4

New Mexico AG seeks to review church personnel files

The Associated Press, KOB
September 05, 2018 10:07 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The New Mexico Attorney General has sent letters to three Catholic dioceses for records of abuse.


“We have numerous families with generational abuse still in pain and we really don't care about confidentiality in a civil court,” Balderas said. “I don't really care about excuses the legislature has about statues of limitations. If this institution is to be an institution of trust and faith, they need to fully tell their story.”

Balderas' demand letters went out to the Archbishop of Santa Fe, John Wester, the Bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces, Oscar Cantu and the Bishop of the Diocese of Gallup, James Wall.

The letter states, "this demand is being sent to you in contemplation of litigation. All documents must be preserved. Any destruction of documents must cease."

“It’s high time now for the church to do a full wide scale disclosure. I think this is the first step to bringing true justice,” Balderas said.

In dozens of lawsuits, the church has shared its secret files on priests with attorneys who are suing the church, but few, if any files have been shared with law enforcement or the public.

In 2017, KOB took the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to court, where a judge ordered the church to release files on three credibly accused priests.

If the dioceses comply with the attorney general’s demands, there would likely be evidence about the abuse and cover-ups that followed.

“We as law enforcement need to understand the level of abuse and pain that occurred in our state,” Balderas said.

The Diocese of Las Cruces wrote in a statement:

"Having an independent authority reviewing our files can foster greater confidence in the transparency and accountability of the diocese.”

The Diocese of Gallup stated it “remains committed to the ongoing protection of children, transparency in these matters and to providing healing for survivors of sexual abuse."

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe wrote in a statement that it "intends to fully cooperate with legitimate authorities." 
Balderas also believes New Mexico's laws are antiquated when it comes to protecting victims of sexual assault by adults in positions of power, such as a priest.

In addition to the legal letter, Balderas said he plans on pushing legislation in the next session to better protect children.

KOB has reported extensively and produced a podcast on the church sex abuse scandal in New Mexico.

Season 1 of the podcast Our Backstory focuses on the wide-scope problem of clergy abuse in New Mexico.  Across six episodes the hosts discuss the legal fight and partnerships KOB made to unseal documents vital to KOB’s investigation, the sometimes grisly and horrifying details of what hundreds of kids endured, and how New Mexico fits into the global clergy abuse crisis.

The show is available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, and Spotify. Make sure to subscribe as well as leave a rating and review so we can continue to improve Our Backstory, and, from wherever you’re listening from. Thank you in advance for tuning in.


The Associated Press, KOB

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