Two men who were parishioners of Questa's St. Anthony Church in the late 1960s have named a former priest as a sexual abuser in a lawsuit filed last week, marking …
Two men who were parishioners of Questa's St. Anthony Church in the late 1960s have named a former priest as a sexual abuser in a lawsuit filed last week, marking another instance of alleged abuse by clergy associated with the beleaguered Catholic Church in New Mexico.
The lawsuit alleges Leo Courcy sexually abused the two boys on an overnight stay at the church rectory in the summer of 1969. One boy was raped and the other molested, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday (May 16) in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque.
The lawsuit was filed against the Servants of the Paraclete, a largely inactive religious order that was founded in New Mexico in the 1940s, and its private foundation.
Aside from the sexual abuse allegations, the lawsuit also lays blame on the higher-ups of the Servants of the Paraclete for negligently putting known abusers into positions of power in underserved parishes across rural New Mexico.
The Servants ran a facility in Jemez Springs that became known as a dumping ground for sexually abusive priests from other dioceses. The religious order would assign priests to ministerial work as part of a "graduated program of rehabilitation," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that "only four days after Fr. Courcy arrived at the Servants' Jemez Springs facilities for a second bout of treatment [for sexually abusing a minor, the director of the facility] made and finalized arrangements to send Fr. Courcy to a supply ministry assignment at St. Anthony Parish in Questa."
In 2017, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe released a list of more than 70 priests, brothers and other members of religious orders who were "credibly accused" of sexually abusing minors; the list included Courcy. Courcy was also named as an abuser in a lawsuit filed in September 2017 that alleges he abused another altar boy from the same year.
The lawsuit also claims the Servants did not keep a list of parish assignments for sexually abusive priests, or that it intentionally destroyed such documents when a wave of lawsuits were filed against it and the archdiocese in the 1990s.
The men who allege Courcy abused them aren't named in the lawsuit, which refers to them as John Doe 127 and John Doe 143. The documents do not indicate if they are still residents of Questa.
The Servants and its foundation had not filed responses to the lawsuit as of press time. According to the archdiocese, Courcy is still living.
Unlike most lawsuits alleging abuse by priests and religious in New Mexico, this one was filed only against the Servant and not the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, which is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings that is changing how sexual abuse lawsuits are getting filed in the state.
After decades of lawsuits and millions of dollars in settlements with sexual abuse victims, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in December 2018. Under federal Bankruptcy Code, the debtor - in this case, the archdiocese - comes up with a plan to pay its debts while continuing to operate.
Because of the bankruptcy, any new claims against the archdiocese must be dealt with as part of those proceedings, which have a June 17 cutoff, or "bar date."
But according to attorney Levi Monagle, who is representing the John Does in the suit filed Thursday, the bankruptcy deadline does not "prevent the filing of lawsuits against other religious organizations like the Servants of the Paraclete, the Sons of the Holy Family, the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Basilians, the Congregation of Blessed Sacrament Fathers or any other religious orders who were doing business in our state, and whose agents participated in raping children or protecting the rapists."
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