New Mexico U.S. Attorney Indicts Former Catholic Priest; SNAP Responds
(For Immediate Release June 30, 2023)
A Roman Catholic priest who had been dismissed from his parish church in Santa Fe last year was arrested Thursday on federal charges of sexually assaulting a young boy in 2012.
Fr. Daniel M. Balizan, 61, ordained in 1989, a former pastor at Santa Maria de la Paz Catholic Community in Santa Fe, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury for a reported case of child sexual abuse in August and September of 2012, according to the indictment. Court documents state that he allegedly used text messages to coerce and entice a minor victim, identified as John Doe in court documents, to engage in sexual activity with him. It is common knowledge that methods of grooming victims encompass a wide variety of tactics that include virtual communication apps, social media, and instant messaging, Balizan also used Facebook.
We stand with the brave victim who came forward regarding the alleged abuse he suffered as a young teenager. We hope this news encourages anyone who has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted person to come forward to report it to authorities, it is never too late.
We are grateful to the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office for investigating this case. This is the second in which the US Attorney's Office in New Mexico has indicted a priest or former priest on accusations of sexual abuse of a minor since 2017. A federal jury in Santa Fe found former St. Bernadette parish priest Arthur Perrault guilty on seven charges of aggravated abuse or assault on a 10-year-old boy dating back to the 1990s in April 2019.
It is important to note that Balizan worked at San Miguel, Socorro; 1989 St. Patrick, Chama; 1991 Our Lady of Guadalupe, Clovis; 1994 St. Anne, Albuquerque; 2000 St. Patrick & St. Joseph, Raton; 2005 Santa Maria de La Paz, Santa Fe; 2012 Santo Nino Regional Catholic School, Santa Fe; 2014 St. Joseph, Cerrillos; 2016. According to social media, he also went to the College of Santa Fe and Springer High School.
These study and job assignments do not include the ministries Balizan encountered while in seminary for priestly training. It is insufficient for church officials to assert that "they turned over information or cooperated with authorities." In our 35 years of expertise, that usually means they're only doing the basic necessities. As a result, we urge Archbishop John Wester to personally visit Balizan's old employment as well as any other church or school where the accused may have visited, and implore witnesses or whistleblowers to contact the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico. In addition, the Archbishop should make announcements in church bulletins, parish websites, and other diocesan publications and channels. Anything less would be a betrayal of this tragedy.
It is very concerning to see lengthy careers of clerics accused of sexual abuse, whether the allegation involves a minor or adult, we can’t help but think of how many other victims there may be. To us, it is very difficult to believe that Balizan’s first victim fell prey in 2012. We suspect many other victims are sitting in painful silence and we hope they find the strength to come forward to the authorities. Individuals may provide any information related to Balizan’s contact with minors by calling the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or submitting a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Interim Executive Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Director ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)