Lawsuit accuses Santa Fe priest of sexual assault
(For Immediate Release October 14, 2022)
A newly filed lawsuit against a priest from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is the latest reminder that the scourge of clergy sexual abuse is not a thing of the past but a problem in the present. We applaud the brave survivor for coming forward and we hope that this lawsuit will not only bring them some semblance of justice and healing but will also encourage other still-silent survivors to come forward and seek help.
According to the lawsuit, Fr. Daniel Balizan allegedly abused a then-15-year-old boy for months while working at Santa Maria de la Paz Catholic Community. Fr. Balizan has worked at Santa Maria since 2012 and given the nature of this allegation, we can only worry that others may have been abused during his tenure there. Especially given the concerning nature of how the victim was allegedly singled out and groomed, we worry that other children in similarly vulnerable circumstances could have also been hurt.
Church officials from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe chose to downplay the allegations rather than offer support to survivors and parishioners, a tone-deaf response that is all too typical in cases of clergy sexual abuse. Instead of equivocating in the media about church-specific terms like “substantiated,” church officials should be doing outreach to parish communities where Fr. Balizan worked and encouraging survivors or witnesses to come forward. We also call on church officials to explain whether they have or have not forwarded information on to local law enforcement.
This case is a reminder that cases of sexual abuse by a priest, nun, or other church staffer are not uncommon and certainly not a vestige of the past like church officials so desperately claim. We hope that this lawsuit will bring the truth and transparency that Sante Fe parents and parishioners deserve but have yet to receive from their church leaders.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)