2.20.2024 Press Release: HWM Files Motion to Enforce Archdiocese of Santa Fe Transparency Covenants

A survivor of clergy sexual abuse perpetrated by an Archdiocese of Santa Fe priest named Fr.Richard Spellman has filed a motion to force the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to fulfill a promise made to survivors as a condition of its exit from bankruptcy proceedings. As a condition of its exit from bankruptcy proceedings in 2023, the Archdiocese promised abuse survivors and the people of New Mexico that it would list on its website the names of “any clergy who are identified in any proof of claim filed in the Chapter 11 case.” Over four hundred proofs of claim were ultimately filed in the Chapter 11 case – including the proof of claim filed by the movant in this matter (a New Mexico woman named Mela LaJeunesse). Ms. LaJeunesse’s proof of claim unequivocally identified Fr. Richard Spellman as the priest who sexually abused her as achild, but the Archdiocese has repeatedly refused to list Fr. Spellman as an accused abuser on its website.

“The Archdiocese has always considered itself to be the sole arbiter of truth with respect to abuse allegations,” said Levi Monagle, an attorney for Ms. LaJeunesse. “Our client’s position is that the Archdiocese explicitly forfeited that right with respect to priests like Fr. Spellman.” The motion itself notes that there were “more than fifty” additional clergy who were named as abusers in proofs of claim but not listed as such on the website of the Archdiocese.

“It’s one thing to pay lip service to transparency, and another thing to implement it,” said Jason Wallace, another attorney for Ms. LaJeunesse. “If the Archdiocese wants to distance itself from long history of secrecy, cover-ups, and victim-shaming, this would be a good place to start.”

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