Associated with the paramount influx of sexual transgressions committed by the church, are a slew of corresponding lawsuits seeking compensation. In a recent case filed against the Catholic church, plaintiffs were awarded a $1.6 million settlement from the El Paso Catholic Diocese after allegations suggested a former Cathedral High School principal committed lewd and salacious acts with several children.
Cathedral High School has been regarded as one of the most illustrious and pristine Catholic high schools in the El Paso region. However, sexual transgressions committed by their former principal may have tarnished their name forever. While he reigned as principal of Cathedral High School from 1976 to 1985, Brother Samuel Martinez allegedly abused or molested several children, two of which are plaintiffs in current litigation.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Santa Fe in the 1st Judicial District Court of New Mexico, alleged that Brother Martinez sexually abused the plaintiffs while they were students at Cathedral High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
According to court documents, Catholic officials apparently had sent Martinez to El Paso after other complaints surfaced against him in another state. Allegations of sexual impropriety against Brother Martinez arose in 1971 at a school operated by NOSF Inc. in New Orleans, Louisiana. Martinez was thereafter transferred to Cathedral High School following these allegations and a 100-day stay in Santa Fe at a retreat center operated by a religious order affiliated with NOSF Inc.
According to plaintiff representatives, both the diocese and the Christian Brothers had a chance to prevent further lewd and salacious acts committed by Martinez. However, instead of reporting his transgressions to the appropriate authorities, they merely transfered him to an institution where he would remain in charge of children. Doing so demonstrated a blatant disregard for child safety and allowed Martinez to continue his acts of sexual predation.
The plaintiffs were awarded $1.6 million by the court, in which the Catholic Diocese was forced to pay.
However, members of the current faculty were quick to acknowledge that Cathedral High School has implemented stricter regulations since Brother Martinez’ employment. The Rev. Anthony C. Celino , the El Paso Catholic Diocese vicar and moderator of the curia, said the school was incorporated in 1993 under a nonprofit designation as Cathedral High School Inc. The corresponding policies that are in place today have a sexual misconduct policy that harbors a safe environment for children. Celino acknowledged that new policies include “ background checks for all employees and those who work directly with students.”
Further reinforcing the importance of their sexual misconduct policy, Celino stated, “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.”
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