Father Jim Poole Speaks about Sexual Abuse Accusations
By Megan Baldino
November 21, 2005
Warning: Some of the content of the story is graphic in nature and not suitable for children.
Anchorage, Alaska - She came forward as Jane Doe I, suing the Catholic Church and Rev. James E. Poole, claiming he sexually abused her as a child. The lawsuit settled for around $1 million. But much of the case was under a gag order, including the deposition of Father Poole. But with the permission of Elsie Boudrea, formerly Jane Doe I, the public will hear Poole's disturbing admissions.
For decades he was one of the most popular priests in Alaska. Father Jim Poole was the radio priest, responsible for starting KNOM in Nome and preaching the gospel of the Lord across Western Alaska. Now in his 80s, he sits accused of sexually abusing five women when they were children. Poole has been stripped of his priestly responsibilities in Fairbanks.
Attorney John Manley asked the questions in an interview with Poole. Manley has handled hundreds of clergy sex abuse cases across the country, including in Alaska. The deposition was taken in September 2004 and up until now, no one has seen it. The case Jane Doe I v. Father Jim Poole had been placed under a gag order. In it was damaging admissions given by Poole himself.
"He said there had been some allegations and that he wanted to know whether or not I had ever indulged in French kissing with Elsie, and I said yes," said Poole.
In the deposition, Poole admits again and again to French kissing Boudreau when she was a child visiting her family in Nome. But he claims it was never sexual.
"You've French kissed other people other than Elsie Boudreau, correct?" said Manley.
"Yes," said Poole.
"And in your experience is that pleasurable?" said Manley.
"It's a different connotation when it was an adult, I found it pleasurable. When it was with Elsie, I found it a way of trying to get across how much she was loved," said Poole.
Boudreau, Jane Doe I, who says Poole's advances started when she was just 10 years old. Boudreau was present for the entire deposition. She says she will never forget what it was like when she walked in the room.
"There was a smell and I smelled it right away. It was that same smell. I don't know if it's his breath or, I don't know, but it was that same smell and I left the room," said Boudreau (left).
Her memories of what happened are much different than Poole's. She describes her experience as a 10-year-old girl being sexually abused by a 50-year-old priest.
"We would sit on the couch and he would have me sit on his lap facing him ya know with our genitals, ya know, and we French kissed for hours and hours and hours," said Boudreau.
Boudreau says it happened everywhere, in Poole's office, at the radio station, even in an abandoned shack.
"He would tell me that he was my friend, that he was my brother, that he was my lover and my father," said Boudreau.
Boudreau listened for hours as Poole, clearly nervous, said he didn't know about social and sexual boundaries. Poole says he eventually learned all about them in New Mexico. In 1994, before Boudreau came forward, Poole says he was sent to a rehabilitation clinic, Servants of the Paraclete, in Jemez Springs, N.M.
"Were you there because you were accused of sexual misconduct?" said Manley.
"Yes. I was told that I was very na´ve, that I knew nothing about boundaries, and that there was no habitual situation in my life that I should be worried about," said Poole.
Poole says the encounter that sent him to therapy was not with a minor. But he admits to lying when his counselors asked him if he had sexually abused any children.
"What did you tell them?" said Manley.
"No," said Poole.
"That wasn't true, was it?" said Manley.
"No," said Poole.
As the deposition goes on, Poole admits there were other children.
"Are you telling Elsie today you are the only person, the only girl you ever abused?" said Manley.
"Minor?" Poole said.
"Right," said Manley.
"If you are including French kissing perhaps I have French kissed a few others," said Poole.
He discussed his relationships with women. At one point Poole says back then he "wasn't too bad looking" and that women were attracted to him. He considered himself a sort of Casanova.
"Fooling myself that I was the great lover of the world," said Poole.
In the end, he apologized.
"I want to apologize to Elsie for any hurt, any harm. I hope someday she will forgive me," said Poole.
For Boudreau, the apology didn't matter.
"I don't think there is any remorse at all. I really don't," said Boudreau.
Instead of blaming herself, Boudreau knows better.
"As children, all children are vulnerable and getting to the point where I can, I know in my mind and my heart that I did nothing wrong. And I do not have to shoulder that burden anymore," said Boudreau.
For years, Poole heard the confessions of Catholics and likely absolved many of their sins. But now, as he confesses his own sins, he'll have to look to someone else besides Boudreau to be absolved.
Phone calls to Poole at his home in Spokane, Wash. were not returned. As for the deposition, KTUU-TV was only able to make it public with the permission of Elsie Boudreau. As part of the settlement, she requested that she be able to release documents relating to her case if she wants to.
Poole makes a distinction between French kissing and sexual abuse. He doesn't think French kissing is sexual abuse but when asked if he knew of any father who French kiss their daughters he said no. So he seems to know there's something wrong with doing that. But Manley also says at one point, did you ever French kiss your niece? Poole says no, but when asked why, he says because she lived far away, he doesn't say because he knows it's wrong.
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