Ex-New Mexico priest arrested on child rape charge
An 81-year-old former priest who the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office says raped a 6-year-old student at Holy Cross Catholic School in Santa Cruz during the mid-1980s was arrested Friday.
Marvin Archuleta has been the subject of civil lawsuits accusing him of sexually abusing minors, and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2017 included him on a list it released naming priests, deacons and brothers who had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct.
State law enforcement agents arrested Archuleta at an Albuquerque apartment complex based on a criminal complaint filed in Santa Fe County Magistrate Court charging him with criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 and kidnapping.
The complaint says Archuleta was ordained in 1970 and served as a priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe from 1970-78 and from 1987-94.
The alleged crimes are said to have taken place prior to Dec. 31, 1987. The complaint says the victim, now in his late 30s, did not immediately report an incident he said occurred inside a room at Holy Cross Catholic Church and described in detail in court documents.
In an arrest affidavit, Special Agent Jacob Trujillo of the Attorney General’s Office said the victim remembered that after the sexual assault he went to the restroom and “wiped his own tears and composed himself to appear as if nothing happened when he returned to class.”
After agents served a search warrant on the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in November, investigators found a file containing sexual assault allegations against Archuleta.
“Prior accusers claimed Archuleta targeted them when they were altar boys at Holy Cross Parish in Santa Cruz,” Trujillo wrote. “The victims claimed Archuleta would touch the boys in their genital area and would request the boys touch his penis. One victim claimed these incidents happened while Archuleta was wearing his priest vestments while within a room at the church.”
At one point in the mid-1990s, Archuleta left the country after he was named in a civil lawsuit over sexual abuse against other children. That case was settled by the archdiocese while he was still out of the country.
In 2002, ABC News located Archuleta in Mexico City at a Sunday Mass.
Archuleta claimed in a statement to investigators that he wasn’t working as a priest in the area of the alleged crimes until 1988. The Archdiocese, however, had records verifying that he was an assistant pastor at Holy Family Church in Chimayó beginning in October 1987.
The Attorney General’s Office since 2016 has been investigating sexual abuse in New Mexico’s Roman Catholic dioceses, where pedophile priests for decades were shuffled through various parishes.
The accuser in the criminal case filed Friday sued Archuleta and the Archdiocese last year, claiming rape and other crimes. According to court records, he said that for a long time he didn’t tell anyone about the alleged rape and that he grew up to become addicted to alcohol and other substances.
After the November search warrant, the Archdiocese announced it would file for bankruptcy protection, as the Catholic Church in New Mexico has settled numerous claims of sexual abuse by clergy over the years and is close to depleting its reserves.