El Paso

The Shepard Dossier: Cathedral High School, Sexual Abuse And The Diocese Of El Paso

Editor’s note: The following is from a dossier compiled by Joseph P. Shepard starting on February 6, 2004. Shepard passed away last month. The dossier was sent to us anonymously. Unless specifically labeled, the content herein comes directly from the Shepard dossier. It details a controversy between then-principal of Cathedral Brother Samuel Martinez and then-Bishop Raymundo Peña.

Article corrected on October 20, 2021 @ 10:46E (This article was edited to correct a grammatical error.)

Shepard’s dossier revolves around the alleged controversy over the Sears building on Raynor street that became the El Paso Police Department’s headquarters. According to the Shepard dossier, then-Bishop Raymundo Peña demanded that Brother Sam (Sam Martinez) be removed as principal of Cathedral in a January 9, 1985 letter. According to Shepard, Peña wrote to Martinez’ superiors; “Brother Sam would have to be replaced immediately” because “he was running Cathedral as if it were a Christian Brother’s School, rather than a Diocesan School,” and because “Brother Sam had spent an enormous amount of time and energy..fighting [sic] the Bishop.. over the Sears property.”

Joseph Patrick Shepard, according to his dossier, was a 1951 graduate of Cathedral High School. He writes in his dossier that he was “a proud and loyal Christian Brothers boy from Cathedral High School.” Shepard was a member of the Los Que Van Quedando, a Cathedral High School alumni association.

According to the Shepard dossier, the controversy started because the owners of the Sears building in the Five Points area wanting “to provide Cathedral and the Brothers with a better Campus and School than they had over on N. Stanton Street” gave the building to Cathedral. The land was gifted, via a quitclaim deed instead of a Warranty Deed, according to Shepard. Shepard adds that the main Sears building was sold off to Charles Leavell who “ended up selling it to the City of El Paso” for $7 million.

The quitclaim deed (922222) from the Sears, Roebuck and Co. to the diocese that the Shepard dossier seems to refer to is one filed on June 3, 1983. The quitclaim deed makes no mention of any monetary value exchanged between the diocese and Sears. The Shepard dossier does not provide a date for when the diocese agreed to sell the Sears building to Leavell. However, a newspaper article in 1985, shows that the Leavell company agreed to purchase the building. A purchase price was not disclosed in the news report. [10] However, in an El Paso Times editorial in 1987, it was revealed that El Paso city council agreed to purchase the Sears building for $6.29 million from the Leavell company. Also, according to the editorial, the Leavell Co. paid the diocese $1.43 million for the building. [11]

The county records, however, show that a warranty deed between the Leavell Company and the City of El Paso (047176) dated November 8, 1988 shows that the City of El Paso paid $7.6 million for the Sears building. Readers should note the discrepancy between the price reported in the newspaper editorial and the price reported by the deed, a difference of about $1.3 million in favor of Leavell. The newspaper article also says that the agreement between the diocese and Leavell was in 1985. We could not find a deed for the transfer of the property from the diocese to Leavell for that year and thus we must accept the $1.43 million reported by the paper.

But the Shepard dossier suggests that the Sears building was given to Cathedral for free. We could not corroborate this information, however the use of a quit claim deed was indeed filed at the county between Sears and the diocese.

According to Shepard, three days after the Sears Roebuck company donated its Five Points property via a quitclaim deed, Raymundo Peña, diocese bishop at the time, “intercepted” the deed and took it to the bank and “pledged it as collateral for a personal Loan [sic] to the Bishop” for $3.75 million. The loaned money was then assigned to the Diocese of El Paso instead of Cathedral according to the dossier.

An El Paso Times article from May 13, 1983, says it was Peña who announced that the diocese “had agreed to buy the old Five Points Sears store and remodel it into a new Cathedral High School.” According to the news report, the diocese was going to pay $2.25 million for the building. [8] Another newspaper article in 1984 confirms the $2.25 million price for the Sears building. But the building was not used for a new Cathedral High School campus. Instead, according to the El Paso Times, the diocese, who had purchased the Sears building for $2.25 million with borrowed money, determined that the cost to convert the building into a school would cost about $4 million, thus making it unfeasible for the school. [9]

Shepard’s allegation that Sears gave the building to Cathedral for free is not supported by the public record. Nonetheless, Shepard goes on to write that Peña created “a kind of Board of Directors to Rule [sic] over the Cathedral Domain in Nov. of 1983.” The dossier goes on to state that Martinez, “Brother Sam,” as he was referred to, opposed the board of directors because the principal wanted Cathedral to be “administered in the tradition of the Christian Brothers.” However, according to Shepard, the “Diocesan Men,” as they are dubbed in the dossier were “dedicated” to taking over Cathedral and the land it owned.

It is the Sears building that led to the alleged conflict between Peña and Martinez and Cathedral High School and the Diocese of El Paso, according to Shepard. It also why Cathedral is no longer run in the tradition of a Christian Brothers School, writes Shepard in his dossier.

Diocese Takes Control Of Cathedral

According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Cathedral High School, Inc. was created on April 25, 1991. Its registered agent is listed as Nick Gonzalez. Shepard writes in his dossier that the diocese took control of Cathedral High School through a non-profit named the Cathedral High School, Inc. by appointing its board of directors.

According to Internal Revenue Records (IRS), there is no active non-profit that uses the federal tax number: 74-1362540. That federal identification number was used by the Scanlan Foundation to report a $35,000 donation to “Cathedral High School” in El Paso in its 2013 and 2014 IRS reports. According to Scanlon’s IRS Form 990 report, Cathedral is listed as a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Shepard wrote in his dossier that Raymundo Peña created The Cathedral High School Building Fund, Inc. around 1991 and 1992. Review of online records for the Texas Comptroller’s office and the IRS non-profit look up tool do not show a non-profit under that name. Nonetheless, Shepard alleges that the diocese used the funds from the Sears building to pay off the sexual abuse cases in El Paso.

Shepard also alleges that $360,000 per year in Cathedral tuition payments go towards settling the diocese’s debt for the Alexander Addition that should have cost $3.5 million. According to Shepard, the school’s tuition payers have paid over $7 million “over the last twenty (20) years,” for the $3 million addition.

The Ted Houghton “Lease” Payments

In addition to the building payments, Shepard alleges in the dossier that an El Paso businessman was receiving $3,000 per month from diocese. According to the dossier, the payments totaled about $720,000 for “the past 20 years.” The monthly payments to the businessman would continue through 2014, says the dossier. News reports from the 1990’s show that Ted Houghton made a donation to the school. However, we have been unable to independently corroborate the payment allegations.

In the dossier, Shepard asks for an audit of the school’s finances, specifically how the tuition money is being used. Shepard also wants an explanation of “lease payments” the school is allegedly paying the diocese.

A 2013 email from Nick Gonzalez, then-principal of Cathedral, invites several individuals to “come celebrate all of the improvements to the E.C. ‘Ted’ Houghton Multi-Purpose Building.” It is unknown if this is related to the allegation levied by Shepard.

Also, in a letter dated June 15, 2014, included in the dossier, Shepard asks that the alumni organization conduct an audit of its finances to determine what it owns “in its own name” for the “express purpose of setting” the organization’s finances “aside and apart” from Peña or the Diocese of El Paso. It is unclear if an audit or financial report was made, however, according to IRS records, a Cathedral Alumni Association non-profit was created on October 31, 2017. [7]

Review of the IRS records for the non-profit reveal that it reported less than $50,000 annually for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Did The Diocese Take Control Of Cathedral?

One of the allegations made by Shepard is that the Diocese of El Paso took control of Cathedral away from the Christian Brothers. According to a Texas Monthly article in 1999, Leo Cancellare was the “first principal in the history of Cathedral who wasn’t a Christian Brother.” Cathedral had been founded in 1925 by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. [6]

By 1999, the school “was twice as large as it had been in 1990,” wrote a Texas Monthly reporter who had written about Cancellare in 1990 and was now writing about his death due to cancer nine years later. A $4.5 million wing had been added to the campus and enrollment had “skyrocketed” from 370 in 1990 to 630 nine years later. [6]

According to the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso, the umbrella non-profit for the Catholic entities in El Paso, Cathedral High School “is owned and administered by the Diocese of El Paso,” but the Christian Brothers continue to be involved in the school, says the write up. It is unclear in what capacity the Brothers function at the school but it is clear that the diocese now controls Cathedral High School. (website accessed on October 14, 2021.)

Raymundo Peña died on September 24, 2021. Shepard also died in early September 2021. The dossier was sent to us earlier this month. The Shepard dossier also alleges that the Sears building was used to payoff several sexual abuse allegations in El Paso.

The Cathedral Sex Abuse Scandals

Shepard, in the dossier, alleges that the “Diocesan Men” “had to know” that the offending priests “were violators” when they were “accepted” to practice at the local churches.

Sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is well documented. In the case of El Paso, the abuse goes back to 1942 when Sydney Mathew Metzger was appointed the second bishop of El Paso. Metzger “thundered that Mike and his mother ‘were going to hell if anything I told him was not absolutely truthful’,” recalled “Mike,” the sexual assault victim who was 11 at the time of the assault. “Mike,” a pseudonym for a sexual assault victim, had been sexually molested by three priests in El Paso. [1]

One of the priests was a close friend of Metzger. [1]

Allegations of sexual abuse continued from there. An unnamed source confided to the author that in the 1960’s they witnessed an incident where he saw “a Cathedral brother leave” a motel room and minutes later they “saw a senior” leave the same motel room a few minutes later. The unnamed person said that the following day, the Brother he saw leaving the motel room “cornered” him and “threatened” him if he said anything. [1]

The Cathedral student said that every time he brought up the incident to fellow alumni, they would feign ignorance. “It’s a sore subject no one wants to admit, especially since many are doctors, lawyers, politicians, [and] teachers.” [1]

In the dossier, Shepard argues that Peña used the Cathedral building fund to “disguise” fundraising in 1991 and 1992 to fund diocese needs at the expense of Cathedral as the sexual molestation lawsuits were draining the diocese’s funds. According to Shepard, the building fund raised about $2 million that went to the diocese and not the school.

In the dossier, Shepard argues that Raymond Peña used the Sears property to settle three sexual abuse cases in El Paso: David Holley, Irving Klister and Jaime Madrid. He does not name Sam Martinez.

The Holley And Klister Cases

Two cases were also settled before going to trial involving Dennis Tejada and Irving Klister. The settlement agreements are sealed. [4] In the case of Klister, the Shepard dossier alleges that Klister molested a St. Pius altar boy who is related to Judge Guadalupe Rivera.

In 1998, Harry Tom Petersen complained that Guadalupe Rivera had included a “particularly improper” religious symbol in campaign literature. Petersen complained that the religious symbol was improper “because the judge had sued the Catholic diocese.” Rivera “expressed shock that Petersen talked publicly,” about the lawsuit in which she was listed “as a Jane Doe plaintiff.” According to the news report, eight members of the Rivera family sued the diocese alleging that Irving Klister “sexually molested and abused” a 12-year-old family member in 1959. The attorney for the Rivera’s told the newspaper that the “Catholic Diocese of El Paso maintains the centuries-old policy of the Roman Catholic Church, cover up the problem and vilify the victims.” The newspaper added that diocese officials “instructed the Rivera boy that God did not want him to tell anyone, including his parents.” [12]

The Jaime Madrid Case

On February 12, 2019, a “John Doe” filed a lawsuit alleging that he was abused by Jaime Madrid when he was 12 years old. According to the lawsuit, the child was sexually assaulted “at a motel and in the priest’s car.” [4] In 2015, we were approached by an unnamed source who detailed witnessing a senior leaving a motel room after a Cathedral brother had left the same motel room a few minutes earlier. According to the unnamed witness, a Cathedral student at the time, was threatened by the school official later and told not to say anything. [1] The lawsuit alleged that while serving as an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, he was abused by Madrid between 1970 and 1971. [4]

Jaime Madrid had previously confessed to Raymundo Peña that he had abused a child previously. [4] The civil suit in that case was settled and the case documents sealed [4] making them unavailable for review.

Although Shepard spends considerable ink arguing that the friction between Martinez and Peña over the Sears building was over the use of the building to settle sex abuse cases, he does not write about Martinez’ own sexual abuse case.

According to the dossier, Samuel Martinez was likely not aware that what was driving the power grab between the diocese and the school over the Sears building starting in 1983 was the “sins of our Fathers,” the Catholic sexual abuse cases across the globe that forced the El Paso Diocese to pay $1.2 million in 2012 to settle a case involving Samuel Martinez. [2]

The Samuel Martinez Case

Brother Samuel Martinez was accused of sexual abuse by two individuals in lawsuits filed in April 2012. “John Doe” alleged that he was abused in 1970 and 1971 in New Orleans in a school operated by the former Christian Brother Schools. Another student, “John Doe II” also alleged to have been assaulted by Martinez. Martinez was the principal of Cathedral from 1976 through 1985. In January 2012, Cathedral settled a case involving two other Cathedral students for $1.6 million. [2]

In 2009, Martinez was living in Lafayette Louisiana in a retirement home. Martinez was not allowed to live with fellow Brothers at the Holy Family Community because he was under a “safety plan” that limited his “unsupervised access to minors.” [5]

Several more cases of abusive clergy were subsequently reported.

The Philip Briganti Case

In February 2014, Philip Briganti was charged with criminal sexual contact in New Jersey. Shortly after news of the charges against Briganti were made public, Sandra Villaseñor wrote an editorial letter in the El Paso Times saying that she had “presented proof” that a “sexual predator” was working in an El Paso church to Armando X. Ochoa, the Catholic Bishop for El Paso at the time. [1]

Villaseñor had been threatened in 2011 by a member of the St. Raphael’s Men’s Association for bringing the matter to Ochoa’s attention. According to Villaseñor she had been threatened with a $2 million lawsuit and told that if she did not drop the matter she would face “severe social and financial consequences.” [1] Philip Briganti was charged with criminal sexual contact on February 21, 2014 in New Jersey.

On January 31, 2019, the Diocese of El Paso published a list of clergy “against whom credible allegations have been made that they committed sexual abuse of minors within the Diocese between January 1, 1950 and December 31, 2018. The list included 30 members of the clergy. [3] Of the list, only three were laicized by the Church at the time the list was published. Laicize is the official removal of a priest from the clergy.

A review of the Catholic Foundation of El Paso on October 14, 2021 shows that Philip Briganti donated between $10,000 and $24,999 to the organization.

The clergy named in the Shepard dossier: David Holley, Jaime Madrid and Irving Klister were named by the Diocese of El Paso in the 2019 list of clergy in El Paso who had “credible” allegations against them.

The Minnesota law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates has compiled lists of Catholic priests accused of sexual misconduct. The law firm has a reputation for litigating cases involving sexual misconduct of Catholic priests. The following are clergy connected to El Paso.

Diocese of Phoenix:

  1. Michael F. (P) Hurley, St. Pius X, 1956.
  2. Santiago Alamaguer, St. Anthony Seminary, 1975-1978.

Diocese of Los Angeles:

  1. Patrick Purcell, died in El Paso in 1964.

Diocese of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose:

  1. Thomas J. Naughton, Jesuit High School in El Paso, 1968. (also listed in Diocese of Illinois list)

Diocese of San Bernadino:

  1. Frank A. Sierra, Our Lady of the Light, 1969-1970 (also listed in Diocese of Colorado list) and Chaplain at UTEP, 1974-1978.

Diocese of Illinois:

  1. Leonard Mateo, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 1976. (also listed in the Diocese of Brooklyn list)

Footnotes:

  1. Martín Paredes, “Incubating the Culture of Corruption, The Catholic Church and Political Corruption in El Paso Texas,” El Paso News, July 13, 2015.
  2. Diana Washington Valdez, “Lawsuits Allege Sex Abuse by Ex-cathedral Principal,” El Paso Times, April 5, 2012.
  3. Bishop Mark J. Seitz Memorandum To Parishes and Members of the Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of El Paso, Diocese of El Paso, January 31, 2019.
  4. Aaron Martinez and Trish Long, “Man allegedly sexually abused by priest sues El Paso Diocese for more than $1 million,” El Paso Times, February 19, 2019.
  5. Claire Taylor, “Accused Brother no longer visiting Lafayette school,” The Daily Advertiser, September 8, 2014.
  6. Jan Jarboe Russell, “School Spirit,” Texas Monthly, July 1999.
  7. Internal Revenues Service Determination Letter dated November 8, 2017.
  8. Esther Longoria, “Diocese to buy old Sears for new Cathedral High,” El Paso Times, May 13, 1983.
  9. Ramon Renteria, “Cathedral backtracks,” El Paso Times, October 13, 1984.
  10. Neal Templin, “Development firm looks to buy ex-Sears complex,” El Paso Times, August 15, 1985.
  11. Barbara Funkhouser, “Everyone wants plans no one has,” El Paso Times, December 13, 1987.
  12. Laura Smitherman, “Opponent’s ad improper, candidate says,” El Paso Times, February 26, 1998.

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