The Catholic Diocese in El Paso, Texas, has been ordered to pay $1.6 million to settle a legal complaint involving allegations of sexual abuse by a former Cathedral High School Principal. According to the lawsuit, Brother Samuel Martinez abused or molested a number of underage boys during his tenure at the school between 1976 and 1985. Allegations of sexual impropriety by Brother Martinez date all the way back to 1971.
Catholic Sexual Abuse Update 4/12/12: The number of reports of sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests skyrocketed by more than 15% last year, according to a recent audit released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In 2011, there were nearly 500 credible reports filed against Roman Catholic priests or deacons nationwide. Click here to learn more.
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What’s the problem?
The complaint, which was filed in the 1st Judicial District Court of New Mexico, claims that Martinez molested the boys while they attended Cathedral High School during the late 70s and early 80s. At the time of the alleged abuse, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, District of New Orleans-Santa Fe (NOSF), was under contract to run the school.
In 1993, Cathedral was incorporated under a nonprofit designation, and has since implemented a rigid policy on sexual misconduct and safe environment. According to Anthony C. Celino, the El Paso Catholic Diocese vicar general and moderator of the curia,
"This includes background checks for all employees and those who work directly with students. They conduct sexual misconduct and safe environment training for all employees and those who work directly with students. They follow the reporting laws as provided in the Texas Civil Statute,” Celino said. "Additionally, every year the school designates a day to discuss with all students a student safety awareness with regards to sexual misconduct and manner of reporting to school authorities, should such things occur."
Unfortunately, as is often the case with members of the Catholic Church who have been accused of sexual abuse, officials apparently sent Martinez to El Paso after complaints were filed against him in another state.
Allegations of sexual misconduct by Martinez first arose in 1971, when he was employed at a school run by NOSF Inc. in New Orleans, LA. In response to the complaints, Martinez was subsequently shuffled to Cathedral after undergoing treatment at a rehabilitation facility operated by a religious order affiliated with NOSF. Since being transferred to El Paso, there have been upwards of 10 allegations of abuse leveled against Martinez.
Brother Martinez is now reportedly living in a retirement home outside of El Paso, and does not retain any functional capacity within the church.
In 2004, the Brothers of the Christian Schools compiled a document titled “This safety plan is designed for Bro. SM,” which claimed that Martinez had spent four months at a rehab facility on the East Coast. The document stated:
"Beginning in 1992, several complaints were raised about his improper behavior with students when he served as principal of a high school. These complaints have to do with what allegedly occurred between 1981 and 1985."
The document also said that two other lawsuits filed against Martinez in 2004 and 2007 were settled out of court for undisclosed sums of money.
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Free Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a sexual abuse suit and we can help.