Archbishop John C. Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe released a list Tuesday (Sept. 12) of clergy accused of sexually abusing children.
The list of more than 70 priests, deacons and religious included at least three clergy who served in parishes in Taos County at some point: Vincent Lipinski, Roger Martinez and Michael O'Brien.
In 1992, Lipinski, a beloved priest at St. Anthony's in Questa, was accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old boy. He pleaded guilty in 1993 and was sentenced to five years probation.
In 2013, Michael O'Brien, also a priest in Questa, was accused by ten men in different lawsuits of molesting them when they were boys years prior. O'Brien was deceased by the time the lawsuits were filed.
O'Brien was known for starting the 100 mile Pilgrimage for Vocations while he was a pastor in Estancia in 1973. He served at the San Francisco de Asis Catholic Church in Ranchos de Taos from 1980 to 1981, at St. Gertrude the Great in Mora, 1982-84, Our Lady of Sorrows in Las Vegas, N.M., 1985-86, and St. Anthony in Questa, 1987-89.
No information was immediately available regarding Roger Martinez, who was a priest at San Francisco de Asis Catholic Church in Ranchos de Taos in the 1980s.
Wester's announcement comes as the Roman Catholic Church and victims continue to wrestle with the painful extent and breadth of allegations against priests all over the world accused of sexually abusing children.
"My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ," begins the letter from Wester.
"Nothing can be more important than the safety and well-being of our children. For over 25 years, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has been working to prevent sexual abuse of children."
"While we have put good programs in place, we must continue to be vigilant - not only to prevent child sexual abuse but also to help victims of past abuse heal and recover from this tragedy," Wester continued. "To the survivors of childhood clergy and religious sexual abuse, their families and loved ones, I am so deeply sorry for the pain and suffering you have endured."
Wester said it was important to "publicly acknowledge and identify those clergy and religious who have been accused of perpetrating child sexual abuse within our archdiocese."
Included in the list are those who worked within the Archdiocese and were found guily of sexually abusing a child; those who worked within the foundaries and had their priestly authority removed after having been accused of sexually abusing a minor; those publicly accused, laicized and no longer in active ministry; and those who were publicly accused but who died before criminal proceedings were completed.
Not included in the list are the names of clergy accused of pedophilia, but where the Archdiocese received no further information or evidence substantiating the claims.
Those who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse in the Archdiocese should call local law enforcement and the Archdiocese Victims' Assistance Coordinator, Annette Klimka at (505) 831-8144 or aklimka.com.
A copy of Wester's letter and the list are attached to this story.
This is a developing story and will be updated.