Gilstrap & Associates File Clergy Abuse Lawsuit In Santa Fe

By: Tom Sharpe | Santa Fe New Mexican
Posted: Monday, March 05, 2012

An unidentified Texan alleges in a lawsuit filed last week in Santa Fe that retired Christian Brother Samuel F. Martinez sexually abused him 32 years ago when Martinez was principal of a parochial school in El Paso.

The Texas resident, identified only as “B.C.,” and two other former students at Cathedral High School in El Paso filed a similar lawsuit in 2009 against Martinez and the Christian Brothers’ regional organization known as NOSF Inc. (for New Orleans/Santa Fe).

The two classmates, identified as J.A. and A.M., recently settled their cases with NOSF for $1.6 million, but B.C.’s case was dropped by state District Judge Sarah Singleton.

B.C.’s lawyer at Gilstrap & Associates of El Paso, said B.C. “was having a real hard time addressing his abuse and wouldn’t get back with us and those kinds of issues. The judge dismissed the case with what’s called ‘without prejudice.’ He’s since come back to us and is wanting to go forward again.”

Timothy Coldwell, provincial of NOSF Inc., declined to comment Monday. NOSF officials in Lafayette, La., previously declined to comment on the 2009 lawsuit.

Martinez, who used to live in Santa Fe, is believed to be living in a Christian Brothers retirement home in Lafayette. The recent case brought by B.C. also names as a defendant Brother Paul Walsh, who was NOSF’s provincial when Martinez became principal at the El Paso school in 1976. Martinez continued there until 1985.

Walsh, 86, a retired teacher and principal at St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, was unavailable for comment.

According to B.C.’s recent complaint, Martinez sexually abused a boy in 1971, when he was principal of another school in New Orleans, admitted “he touched the boy inappropriately” and spent 100 days at the Sangre de Cristo Retreat Center near Chupadero, N.M., before he was sent to teach at Cathedral High School in 1972.

When Walsh became provincial of the regional organization in 1976, the complaint says, he appointed Martinez as principal of the school owned by the Diocese of El Paso and operated on a contract with the Christian Brothers.

The recent lawsuit also names as defendants the Catholic Diocese of El Paso and the Christian Brothers Major Superiors, a nonprofit group that owns the Sangre de Cristo Retreat Center.

“NOSF, Walsh, the Christian Brothers Major Superiors and the Diocese knew or should have known of the sexual abuse and/or the dangerous sexual propensities of Martinez,” the complaint says.

Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or tsharpe@sfnewmexican.com.