Sex abuse suit against Archdiocese settled


Sex abuse suit against Archdiocese settled

SAN ANTONIO — The El Paso Archdiocese has settled a lawsuit with two alleged victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a now-deceased priest.  Attorneys say Father Alfonso Madrid, a Jesuit Catholic priest, sexually assaulted two boys decades ago in El Paso, but he may have victimized a child in San Antonio too. The lawsuit against the El Paso Archdiocese uncovered an allegation of abuse at a San Antonio church, which was reported in 1968 to Madrid’s superiors. “It was reported to him that Father Madrid had taken a nine-year-old boy from the bingo hall at Our Lady of Guadalupe there in San Antonio and taken him to the rectory where he sexually abused that little boy,” explained attorney Hal Browne. The lawsuit alleges the Jesuits knew about the San Antonio abuse allegation when Madrid was transferred back to El Paso, and no investigation occurred at the time.  He served at Our Lady of Guadalupe from 1966 to 1970, and Browne believes there could be other victims. “These types of perpetrators generally do not just stop with one victim. So we anticipate there are probably other victims out there,” he said. The suit alleges one child in  El Paso was molested for nine months when he was a fourth grader and altar boy at a Catholic school.  The other was allegedly assaulted while he attended a different El Paso school. Madrid died in 1982. The San Antonio Archdiocese released a statement Friday saying the Archdiocesan Review Board could not identify the alleged San Antonio victim and could not substantiate the report.  Announcements about the lawsuit were placed in the Our Lady of Guadalupe bulletin and Archbishop Gustavo pledged to “continue my commitment to work tirelessly to make every Catholic church school, and institution a safe harbor for all of our children. Please join me in prayer as we reach out to any and all who may be victims of sexual abuse.” Attorneys would not disclose the settlement amount. Full statement from the San Antonio Archdiocese: “Today, we have learned that the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Paso and the Jesuit Religious Order settled sexual abuse lawsuits alleging that Rev. Alfonso Madrid, S.J. sexually abused two minors while assigned in the Diocese of El Paso. Father Madrid served in the Archdiocese of San Antonio at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on El Paso Street and as Ordinary Confessor at the Daughters of Mary Immaculate from 1966 to 1970. Father Madrid died in March, 1982. During the course of the lawsuits we became aware of a 1968 letter written by an archdiocesan officialto the Jesuit superiors. This letter advised him of a report of sexual abuse by Father Madrid against an unnamed 9 year old boy from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Consistent with our policy, this matter was referred to the Archdiocesan Review Board. In their further examination, the board could neither identify the victim nor substantiate the report, but encouraged the archbishop to inform the parish of the ongoing litigation. Announcements were placed in the bulletin at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and communicated to the Jesuit provincial. In the announcement, Archbishop Gustavo García‐Siller, MSpS, wrote, ‘I share this information with the hope that any members of our community affected by sexual abuse will be encouraged to seek all needed pastoral support or counseling as part of their healing process.’ To the parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe and all of the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Archbishop Gustavo reaffirmed his heartfelt pledge to, “Continue my commitment to work tirelessly to make every Catholic Church, school and institution a safe harbor for all of our children. Please join me in prayer as we reach out to any and all who may be victims of sexual abuse.’ If anyone has question or concerns in regard to Rev. Madrid, they are invited to contact Steve Martinez, director of the archdiocesan Office of Victim Assistance and Safe Environment, at 210‐734‐7780 or 877‐700‐1888. You may also wish to contact the Pastoral Outreach Coordinator for the New Orleans Province Jesuits at 314‐915‐7168 or by e‐mail at their confidential e‐mail address: pastoraloutreach@norprov.org.” Statement from the Diocese of El Paso Regarding Sex Abuse Lawsuit Settlement: “On Feb. 5, 2015, the case involving two men, one who said he was abused from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, and another who said he was abused in the early 1970s, was settled.  The case centered on the alleged actions of Jesuit priest, Fr. Alfonso Madrid, S.J.  The Diocese of El Paso was at no time ever alerted to any concerns or warnings regarding Fr. Madrid.  The diocese was made aware of these allegations only after the victims came forward and the case was filed.   The El Paso Diocese takes cases of abuse very seriously and offers two programs to assist community members. First, the Safe Environment program includes a mandatory background check and hours-long education for any and all people who work for, or volunteer with, the Catholic Church in any capacity. It is offered several times a year and is attended by several hundred people at each session.  For more information, call Diana Bulko at (915) 872-8427 or dbulko@elpasodiocese.org. Secondly, we encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse by a clergy or employee of the Diocese of El Paso to come forward.  We have a Victims Assistance Ministry that specializes in helping victims move forward with their claim. For more information, contact Susan Martinez at (915) 872-8465 or smartinez@elpasodiocese.org.  We also encourage victims to contact local authorities as well. This lawsuit and settlement pertains to cases that are decades old. Though time has passed, we know the pain for the victims has not. And we know that to be true for many of the nation’s sex abuse victims. The Diocese of El Paso will offer a Mass of Atonement and Hope. It is intended as an outreach to victims who have suffered from abuse – sexual, physical and emotional – to come together in community with the church. Families are encouraged to attend. It will be offered on Mar. 14 at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Bishop Mark J. Seitz will be the main celebrant and will offer penitential prayers on behalf of the Church as well as prayer for hope and healing of those who have been affected.”

http://www.news4sanantonio.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/sex-abuse-suit-settled-against-archdiocese-20293.shtml

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