ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Two men are taking on two Catholic churches in Albuquerque and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in a set of new lawsuits that accuse the church of allowing a culture of sexual abuse that lasted for decades.
The lawsuit specifically names the Queen of Heaven and Lady of Guadalupe parishes in Albuquerque where the two men say they were raped in the ’60s and ’80s.
But the men also claim that the Archdiocese knew they and other boys were at risk but did nothing to prevent abuse.
Lawsuits over priest sex abuse claims are nothing new for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe but attorney Brad Hall hopes two lawsuits he’s filed on behalf of two men will address what he calls a “bigger picture.”
“We’re saying they knew or should have known that something was going on and done something to stop it sooner,” said Hall.
The first man Hall represents says he was raped as a teen in 1986 by former Father Sabine Griego at the Queen of Heaven Parish in the Northeast Heights.
The second man says Father Walter Cassidy raped him 50 to 80 times in 1967 and 1968 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in the North Valley.
Both lawsuits claim the priests often gave young boys alcohol and groomed them for sex. But Hall says the goal isn’t just to go after two priests.
“It’s not about him. The case is about the Archdiocese and the church and the culture,” said Hall.
In all, 40 priests who served in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe are named in the lawsuits.
“Practically a third of those priests running around northern New Mexico were molesting children,” said Brad Hall.
The priests in question are people who the victims claim the Archdiocese knew had a history of sexually abusing kids.
The victims believe the Archdiocese covered it up in several ways such as transferring priests to different parishes when people started asking questions.
“These two particular individuals believe they need to obtain documents from the archdiocese about this era, about that era and those decades to understand how this happened to them in order to help their own therapeutic recovery,” said Hall.
Hall says he hopes these lawsuits will finally expose the systemic issues that he says lead to decades of abuse.
“Justice is about healing in both these case,” said Hall.
Hall says the specific dollar amount the men are seeking would be decided by a jury. So far, they’re not making any predictions about how much they’ll ask for.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for comment but did not hear back Wednesday.
Since the mid-1990s, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has settled more than 100 cases of sex abuse involving priest in New Mexico parishes. No case has gone to trial.