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Ex-Catholic priest in New Mexico dies before abuse trial

October 7, 2020 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former Roman Catholic priest has died just weeks before he was scheduled to go on trial in New Mexico after he was accused of raping a young girl at an Albuquerque parochial school decades ago, authorities said.

The New Mexico attorney general’s office said Sabine Griego, 82, died last week. The trial was scheduled to begin Nov. 16. A judge had released Griego on his own recognizance, so he was not in custody while awaiting trial.

His death is “deeply disheartening” to survivors, said Levi Monagle, an Albuquerque-based attorney representing survivors in the criminal lawsuit and in a separate civil case brought against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

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“He evaded the criminal justice system for decades and for decades when it was pretty well known and acknowledged that he was implicated in childhood sexual abuse,” Monagle said.

Griego was arrested at his Las Vegas, New Mexico, home in 2019 and was charged with one count of sexual penetration of a minor and coercion resulting in great bodily harm and mental anguish, authorities said. He was held without bond at the San Miguel County Detention Center before being released pending his trial.

Griego’s attorney did not return a phone call by the Santa Fe New Mexican on Tuesday.

“We are disappointed that the survivors of his abuse will not get their day in court, but our office will continue to hold institutions and those in positions of power accountable for their abuses in these cases,” attorney general’s office spokesperson Matt Baca said.