Victim files lawsuit against El Paso Catholic Diocese
EL PASO, Texas – A man who says he’s the victim of a pedophile priest filed a lawsuit against the El Paso Catholic Diocese.
The alleged victim said he was sexually molested by Father Denis Tejada, when he was 10 and 11 years old in the 1970s.
He accuses Tejada of abusing him when he was an altar boy at Saint Patrick Cathedral.
According to El Paso Times, the Catholic Church removed Tejada from his pastoral and administrative duties in 2002 after someone else came forward with sexual abuse allegations.
In response to the lawsuit, El Paso’s Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz sent the following statement:
“We are very concerned about anyone who has suffered abuse. Though time passes, we know the pain for the victim remains. And we know that to be true for many of the nation’s sex abuse victims.
“The lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday, June 10, pertains to an event that is decades old. As noted by the attorney for the complainant, Fr. Denis Tejada was removed from his ministry in the Diocese of Las Cruces 13 years ago. He no longer serves as a priest.
“The diocese has had a process in place for many years through which anyone who claims sexual abuse by a priest, religious or employee of this diocese can file a complaint. If the complaint is found to be credible, they can receive relief in a form justified by the facts of the case. This process involves confidentiality out of respect for the complainant and has been very successful. I encourage anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse by any employee of the Roman Catholic Church to please come forward by contacting Susan Martinez, LCSW, at the Victims Assistance Ministry, (915) 872-8465 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Furthermore, I would encourage them to contact local authorities as well.
“The Diocese of El Paso, just this month, launched a new Safe Environment training program (“Virtus”) for all those who work for, or volunteer with, the diocese. Virtus incorporates proven best practice standards for the prevention of child sexual abuse by clergy, staff, volunteers, and others who interact with children within the church environment. Virtus is being implemented community-wide as part of our outreach and response to protect young people and vulnerable adults. It serves as an indication of our desire to do even more effectively this work of assuring that our communities are safe for our children and vulnerable adults.
“I have included in my daily prayers those who are victims of abuse for years now and since the late 1990’s, I have fasted on Fridays for them. I continue to do so and I stand ready to do all in my power to assist them.”
Bishop Mark Seitz, Diocese of El Paso