2 More Priests Face Sex Abuse Suits
By Mary Beth Smetzer
Fairbanks News-Miner [Alaska]
February 9, 2006
Civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of a minor have been filed against two more Jesuit priests who served in the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese.
The plaintiff, Jake Doe 1, claims in suits filed Wednesday in Bethel Superior Court that he suffered repeated sexual abuse by both men when he was a young child living in Holy Cross.
The Revs. Andrew Eordogh and Bernard McMeel are listed as defendants along with the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska, and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, and Alaska, who oversaw the priests' placement and supervision at the time.
Raised in Anchorage, Holy Cross and Bethel, Doe said the priests sexually abused him on multiple occasions between 1967 and 1970, beginning when he was 4-years-old and continuing until he was 7.
Doe said in the complaint that McMeel first abused him, then "handed him off" to Eordogh after leaving Holy Cross to become superior regular for all Alaska Jesuits.
Ronnie Rosenberg, human resources director for the diocese, said she was unaware of Wednesday's filing until she began receiving media inquiries.
"I can't respond until I see the complaint and investigate as the case unfolds," she said. "We will look at it and go from there."
The Rev. John Whitney, Provincial of Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, was unavailable for comment.
Eordogh was a member of the Society of Jesus, Hungarian Province, assigned to Alaska from 1967 through 1971, according to the complaint. His last U.S. residence was in Chicago. He now resides in a retirement home for priests in Pilisvorosvar, Hungary.
McMeel, who died in 1992, came to Alaska in 1955 to serve as the first principal at Monroe Catholic High School. During the 23 years he was in Alaska, he also worked in Chevak, Newtok, Holy Cross, Shageluk, McGrath, Marshall, Russian Mission, Grayling, Galena, Huslia, Manley Hot Springs, Tanana, Ruby, Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Tununak, Toksook Bay and Nightmute.
Wednesday's 14-page complaint claimed McMeel left Alaska in 1978 after it was learned by the Society of Jesus that he had molested a child.
Ken Roosa, Anchorage attorney for the plaintiff, said Jake Doe 1 first approached him in November, saying he was haunted by the childhood abuse but kept putting off making calls about it because he found it too difficult to face.
"He said he tried to push it back and push it back, and finally decided he wasn't going to have any peace in his life if he sat back and ignored it," Roosa said.
The complainant is asking in excess of $100,000 in damages for the sexual abuse, severe emotional distress, great mental anguish and other harm, including loss of faith in God. An exact amount would be determined at trial.
Roosa is counsel for more than 90 men and women who have filed civil suits alleging childhood sexual abuse by a dozen clerics serving in the Fairbanks diocese--10 Jesuit priests and two volunteers.
The diocese has made monetary settlements with five individuals since 2003, according to Bishop Donald Kettler. Three of the individuals who settled had initially filed legal complaints. Two others negotiated settlements through lawyers.
The first sexual abuse civil suit to go to trial in Alaska--Jane Doe 2 v. the Rev. James Poole, the Catholic diocese and the Society of Jesus--is set for Feb. 27 in Nome.
Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 459-7546.
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