DENVER (CN) – A grieving woman who sought consolation from a Catholic priest claims in court that he took her clothes off, “prayed over her naked body,” sprinkled her with holy water and then sexually assaulted her.
Jane Doe No. 34 sued the Archdiocese of Denver in Denver County Court. The Archdiocese is the only defendant, though all the allegations concern its employee, Father Jose Saenz.
Doe claims she met Saenz when he was a pastor at Saint Mary of the Crown Mission in Carbondale, Colo. Saenz performed the funeral service for one of Doe’s friends, whose death left her “severely depressed to the point where she was having suicidal thoughts,” she says in the complaint.
The depression lasted for more than three months, she says, until July 4, 2011, when she called Saenz on the phone “to discuss her suicidal feelings.”
The complaint continues: “After learning of Jane Doe No. 34’s suicidal and vulnerable state of mind Father Saenz insisted that he meet with Jane Doe No. 34 to counsel and pray with her.
“On or about July 4, 2011, Father Saenz met Jane Doe No. 34 at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, Colo. Jane Doe No. 34 was severely depressed and had taken anti-depression and anti-anxiety medication on that date. Jane Doe No. 34 also drank large quantities of vodka to help with her depression. She had hoped that Father Saenz’s prayer and counseling would her enable her to overcome the grief from her friend’s death.
“Upon his arrival at the Hotel Colorado, Father Saenz began taking advantage of Jane Doe No. 34’s intoxicated state instead of praying and counseling her. Father Saenz began kissing Jane Doe No. 34 in the hallways on the way to her room. Once they entered the room, Father Saenz removed Jane Doe No. 34’s clothing, placed her on the bed and prayed over her naked body. Father Saenz then placed holy water on Jane Doe No. 34’s forehead and gave Jane Doe No. 34 holy water to drink. Father Saenz then removed his clothing and sexually assaulted Jane Doe No. 34.”
Doe says Saenz knew or should have known that she was too drunk to consent to sex.
“The sexual abuse by Father Saenz has caused Jane Doe No. 34 to experience severe psychological injuries, including but not limited to loss of faith, depression, intimacy problems, constant fear, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, mood swings, and the lost of enjoyment of life,” she says in the complaint.
She seeks damages for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and outrage.
“Father Saenz’s outrageous conduct occurred while he was acting as an agent of the Archdiocese, under the apparent authority conferred on him by the Archdiocese,” the complaint states.
“This apparent authority took the form of, among other things, Father Saenz’s use of holy water and ceremony in initiating the sexual assault. As the pastor at the Saint Mary of the Crown Mission, the Archdiocese did not control the physical movements of Father Saenz. Father Saenz was expected to perform counseling and religious functions for the Archdiocese; however, the Archdiocese did not monitor his physical movements and was only concerned with the results he achieved.”
Doe claims the Archdiocese “knew or had reason to know that Father Saenz took advantage of vulnerable women to satisfy his sexual interests.”
The Rev. Jose Saenz is still listed as pastor of Saint Mary of the Crown Mission parish in Carbondale on the Archdiocese of Denver website, checked Tuesday.
Carbondale is about 30 miles northwest of Aspen, in the Elk Mountains.
Jane Doe No. 34 is represented by Jonathan Datz with Datz & Fee, in Broomfield.
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