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N.M. official removed over ex-cleric's parole

SANTA FE -- The New Mexico Parole Board's failure to notify victims when a former Worcester, Mass., priest came up for parole on a molestation conviction has led to the dismissal of the board's director.

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico yesterday removed Bob Martinez, who said Thursday that his office had ''screwed up" by not alerting victims of David Holley, 77, who pleaded guilty in 1993 to sexually molesting eight boys in Alamogordo in the 1970s.

Richardson said the board's failure to notify victims violated the state constitution and was a serious breach of public trust. ''The public, especially crime victims, must have complete confidence in the system," he said.

During Holley's 30-year career, bishops sent him for inpatient psychiatric treatment at least twice, then institutionalized him again when abuse allegations resurfaced in the early 1990s after he retired. Allegations by a Massachusetts bishop in the late 1960s and similar ones forced Holley out of his home diocese of Worcester and led to a series of transfers.

In New Mexico, Holley was paroled May 26 under strict conditions, but the parole board chairman, Tim Kline, rescinded the parole and scheduled another hearing Sept. 14. Holley never left prison. Holley is serving a 275-year prison term in the geriatric unit of the minimum-security Los Lunas prison.

State law allows victims to submit a written statement or speak to the Parole Board. They also have the right to attend the hearing. However, Holley's victims were not informed of the May hearing due to a clerical error, Martinez said.

Richardson also said he was outraged that the board would parole Holley, given the seriousness of his crimes and the length of the original sentence.

After leaving Massachusetts, Holley eventually landed at an Albuquerque retreat house run by a Catholic order that aids priests plagued by everything from sexual misconduct to addictions.

While under the order's care, Holley served as an assistant pastor at an Alamogordo church until the mid-1970s. His immediate supervisor later testified that several victims' families told him of abuse at the time.

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