Popular Priest Faces Lawsuit
Priest Is Prolific Author, Popular Professor

September 8, 2003

CHICAGO -- A popular Chicago priest was slapped with a lawsuit Monday as charges of sexual abuse surfaced.

NBC5's Anna Davlantes reported on Monday that four women have come forward, claiming Rev. John Powell (pictured, center), a Jesuit priest, abused them when they were teenagers. Davlantes further reported that Powell is a popular professor at Loyola University and is an accomplished lecturer and writer. Powell, Davlantes reported, is the second-best selling "Christian" author in U.S. history.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the Jesuits and Powell, Davlantes reported.

Patrice Regnier (pictured, left), who is one of the four women who filed the lawsuit, is the only one speaking publicly about the allegations. She released a letter she wrote to Loyola University 10 years ago asking them to take action against Powell. Davlantes reported that the university did not take any action.

In her letter, Davlantes reported, Regnier said Powell "introduced me to sexual activity" and "continued an ongoing sexual relationship with me." Davlantes further reported that Regnier told Loyola University in her letter that she was "aware of other girls who have been involved with John Powell."

Regnier said she decided to come forward after watching priest-abuse victims speak out in Boston. Regnier says she hopes her courage will persuade other victims to come forward.

"It took me a long time to understand what happened to me, and I don't want it to happen to any other child," Regnier said.

Powell did not respond to NBC5's phone calls as of Monday afternoon.


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