Man Sues over Alleged Sexual Abuse by Franciscan Brother

November 30, 2007

A former Carlsbad, New Mexico, resident who claims a Franciscan brother sexually abused him as a teenager in the late 1970s is suing the brother, the order he belongs to and two local parishes.

The civil lawsuit, filed Wednesday in state district court, names brother Kerry Guillory, the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation, the San Jose Catholic Church of Carlsbad and St. Edward Catholic Church of Carlsbad. The dioceses of Las Cruces and El Paso, Texas, also are named as defendants.

The plaintiff, who is not named in the lawsuit, claims he was sexually abused between 1975 and 1978 by Guillory, who was working with the Catholic Youth Organization in Carlsbad at the time, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the alleged sexual assaults. The plaintiff claims he now suffers a host of emotional problems, including difficulty with relationships and trust.

“This suit gives the victim a chance to gain back his innocence and live a life of dignity,” said Kevin McGuire, the plaintiff’s attorney.

The lawsuit also alleges that church entities tried to hide Guillory’s alleged behavior and that there was a “code of silence.”

Guillory denies the accusations. He’s now the operations manager of the Franciscan Shelter House in Louisville, Ky., which provides meals and clothing to the needy.

“Nothing happened,” Guillory told The Courier-Journal in Louisville during a brief interview Wednesday.

Brother Robert Baxter, a spokesman for the province, said he wasn’t aware of any previous accusations against Guillory and couldn’t comment further because he had not seen the lawsuit. He said standard procedure calls for brothers accused of sexual abuse to be removed from ministry pending an investigation.

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces was said to be out of his office Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

The plaintiff alleges that Guillory took him on trips to El Paso, Dallas, Houston and other places, during which he forced the teen to share a bed with him. The plaintiff also accuses Guillory of buying him alcohol and marijuana.

According to the lawsuit, the molestation and sexual abuse were carried out numerous times for about two years and caused the teen a great deal of distress and physical harm.

The lawsuit also alleges that while the abuse was going on, the other defendants knew about the incidents.

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