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New Mexico Priests, Nuns accused of abusing orphans

A New Mexico orphanage group of Catholic priests and nuns stand accused of abusing orphans in their charge. A lawsuit filed this last summer claims the priests and nuns in Albuquerque abused the orphans at the Catholic institution.

The orphanage – which was located in Albuquerque on Indian School near 12th Street – closed in the early 1980s.

An attorney representing one of the accusers said: “I think St. Anthony’s orphanage has been around forever or was around forever. And then in the 1950s, 1960s, and we’re actually learning even prior to that, (the orphanage) had a problem with physical and sexual abuse of children who were placed there.”

Child a Captive Sex Toy

The lawsuit alleges that John Doe 167 became a “captive sex toy” for the orphanage’s chaplain, visiting priests, and nuns.

The alleged victim was a resident of St. Anthony’s, which was located on Indian School near 12th Street, from 1958 to 1965. The man’s attorneys say the abuse started when he was 6 years old. The lawsuit names a specific priest who, it alleges, would give altar wine in order to disorient and relax the victim for sex abuse.

As a result, says the lawsuit, the victim suffers from PTSD, depression, and a loss of faith.

The victim’s attorney has said other abuse victims from St. Anthony’s have also contacted him.

Less than Human?

The attorney said that in a place such as St. Anthony’s, there’s “a pattern, and practice and really a culture that looked at these children as something less, maybe something less than human in the eyes of these abusers.”

The lawsuit seeks damages from the Colorado Springs-based Sisters of Saint Francis, which ran St. Anthony’s during the years of alleged abuse.

Sister Marietta Spenner told Albuquerque’s KOB 4 News: “I am deeply troubled by the recent allegations that have been brought forth. I do not believe that anything like that ever occurred at St. Anthony’s orphanage.”

According to the Sisters of Saint Francis, some 6,000 boys, ranging in age from newborns to 14, stayed at St. Anthony’s orphanage during its 68 years of service.

Child Sex Abuse Nationwide

The entire country was re-awakened to the horrors of child sex abuse in the summer of 2018 when a Pennsylvania grand jury revealed that more than 300 Philadelphia-area priests had abused more than 1,000 children (and likely many more, said the jury) over several decades. The jury published its findings after convening for more than two years to study the problem.

Equally disturbing, the Penn. Grand jury found that senior church officials, including the current archbishop of Washington, D.C., systematically covered up the abuse.

Several states have acted to Help Victims

Since that announcement, several state legislatures – such as New York, New Jersey, and others – moved to extend victims’ deadlines to file suit against their abusers. Prior to the deadline extensions, many statutes of limitations’ deadlines had expired for many older victims. That was, and is, a miscarriage of justice, as studies have shown that most victims of child sex abuse don’t reveal it until many decades after the fact. Most abuse survivors are simply not ready to share their past victimization with anyone until many, many years have passed.

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