AP NEWS

Rape trial against former Catholic priest starts in Santa Fe

January 31, 2020 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A trial has started for a former priest accused of raping a first-grade student from Holy Cross Catholic School in Santa Fe more than 30 years ago.

Key in the trial that began Thursday will be whether Marvin Archuleta, now 82, was in New Mexico during the 1986-87 school year, when the boy said he was abused, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Archuleta has been charged with one count of criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 and one count of attempting to commit kidnapping, prosecutors said.

Archuleta was not assigned to Holy Cross Catholic Church in 1986 or 1987 but would still be at the church occasionally, Assistant Attorney General Brittany DuChaussee said in her opening statement. A newspaper article from that time says Archuleta conducted a funeral in the area, proving he was there, she said.

Defense attorney Ryan Villa said Archuleta was assigned in Maryland when the boy was in first grade, and jurors would not see a single record putting Archuleta at the school at that time.

The criminal case started when the accuser sued after disclosing the abuse to his parents in 2016. Villa said that at the time, the man could not remember his abuser.

The man identified Archuleta after his attorney showed him a photo of the priest. Villa said it was taken before the alleged crimes and showed Archuleta to be much younger.