Northern Alaska Diocese to Abide by Gag Order

By Mary Beth Smetzer
News-Miner [Alaska]
August 11, 2004

The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Northern Alaska, Bishop Donald Kettler, said the diocese agrees with the gag order motion filed last week in Bethel Superior Court.

The motion seeks to stop information from being released to the media in a lawsuit filed by Jane Doe alleging that the Rev. James Poole, a Jesuit priest, now retired, abused female minors while serving as director of radio station KNOM in Nome and pastor at St. Joseph's Parish.

Kettler, who was unaware of the motion when contacted last week, said he made the decision to support the motion after talking to the diocese's attorney Bob Groseclose.

"I've taken his recommendation because we're concerned that it (civil suit) not be tried in the press," Kettler said. "And secondly that we not taint the pool of possible jurors."

In addition to Poole and the bishop, two other defendants are included in the gag order request, The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, and The Society of Jesus, Alaska.

Groseclose said the motion was prompted by the release of a deposition by the Rev. William Loyens in another lawsuit involving the diocese purporting sexual abuse of male minors by a now-deceased French Jesuit priest, Jules Convert.

The controversial deposition was released by the same attorney, Kenneth Roosa of Anchorage, who represents Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 in separate lawsuits against Poole. Roosa also represents a number of men who are suing the diocese for alleged abuse by Convert.

Groseclose said the plaintiff's "penchant for releasing snippets of information out of the context that they appeared resulted in the motion request.

"We thought the best way to head off and avoid, or at least police that process is to involve the court and require that the court be asked before the information is released in a wholesale way," Groseclose said.

Roosa has requested additional time to respond to the filing.

Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at or 459-7546.