A former priest from New Mexico is accused of repeatedly raping an 8-year-old girl, in one case forcing her to clean up her own vomit and in another attack breaking her nose, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.
The accusations, which date back 30 years, are among multiple sexual assaults alleged against 81-year-old Sabine Griego, whom police arrested on Tuesday at his home in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Prosecutors have charged Griego with one count of sexual penetration of a minor as well as coercion that resulted in great bodily harm and mental anguish.
Griego has been accused of sexually abusing upwards of 30 children over the span of decades as a priest with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and was the subject of eight closed cases between 1993 and 1995.
While the church put Griego on leave in 1993, he was not officially dismissed until 2005.
Law enforcement alleges that the church was aware of the claims involving the 8-year-old girl for at least 15 years. An arrest warrant references a 2004 letter by Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan that contains “direct evidence” of the rape and reveals that the church conducted its own inquiry into the claim.
Sabine Griego has been accused of sexually assaulting 38 children in #NewMexico – Today he is expected to go before a judge on one of those cases.#4Investigates reporter @KOBChrisRamirez has followed Griego's case and has the latest.https://t.co/pCDt3FsIxC
— KOB 4 (@KOB4) March 13, 2019
Another priest had also reported Griego to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1994, according to a document obtained by police.
Griego started his religious career at Cristo Rey Catholic Church in Santa Fe in 1964 and went on to churches in Albuquerque, Ruidoso and Las Vegas, New Mexico. He then returned to the Albuquerque church, where the assaults against the 8-year-old allegedly occurred. They were incredibly violent.
In one instance, Griego brought the the girl to the church rectory and said they would “play a special game.” The girl threw up during the encounter, and Griego made her clean up the vomit, according to authorities.
During another alleged rape, Griego threw the girl to the floor and covered her mouth. When she bit his hand, he slapped her and continued to rape her.
In yet another assault, an angry Griego slammed the girl’s face into a table and broke her nose, which required her to be hospitalized. She told her mother that the injury was from a physical education class. Investigators reviewed X-rays from the hospital to substantiate the broken nose.
The girl, who was in second grade at the time, told investigators that Griego raped her numerous other times after and sometimes forced her to drink wine. He also used a wooden spoon to beat her.
Griego would seek to spend time with the girl. Sometimes he would remove her from class and would also visit her during lunch and after school, according to police. One time he offered her “weird black Halloween candy.”
Griego eventually left the church when the victim was in fourth grade.
The newspaper reports that the girl did not report the priest right away because he threatened to cut her tongue out, kill her or injure her mother. She eventually told her parents when she was 13 years old, when she was experiencing nightmares and began hurting herself.
However, police did not become aware of the allegations until last year.
Griego worked from 2000 to 2017 as a professor at Luna Community College, which is near his home.
He is being held in jail without bond.
[Feature Photo: Sabine Griego/San Miguel County Detention Center]