Another Sex Abuse Claim Filed against Jesuit Priest
By Mary Beth Smetzer
Fairbanks News-Miner [Alaska]
February 15, 2006
Another complaint against Jesuit priest James E. Jacobson was filed in Bethel Superior Court on Tuesday.
The plaintiff, Jane C. Doe, alleges Jacobson raped her three times in the winter and spring of 1967, when she was 16 years old and Jacobson was the village priest in a rural community in western Alaska.
Jacobson, who served in western Alaska from the early 1960s to 1976, is named in another outstanding civil suit, filed in October 2005, as allegedly sexually assaulting two women, impregnating them and leaving two sons behind. DNA test results at.tached to the complaint show there is more than a 99 percent probability the two male complainants were fathered by Jacobson.
Both civil suits also name as de.fendants the Catholic Bishop of Nor.thern Alaska and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province and Alaska.
The latest suit claims the plaintiff was 16 years old at the time when the rapes occurred in a village church buil.ding, and that Jacobson used re.straints, threats and physical force to perform both oral sex and vaginal in.tercourse. The plaintiff claims it was her first sexual experience.
Doe also claims Jacobson told her if she told anyone, they would not be.lieve her and she would be condemned by the church and the community. The suit alleges he also told her having sex with a priest would bring her closer to God.
According to the complaint, Jane C. Doe reported the assaults to a village elder, who told her never to say such things about a priest to anyone. She also claims she told two other Jesuit priests about Jacobson's sexual assaults and no action was taken.
The Anchorage attorney for the plaintiff, Christopher Cooke, of Cooke, Roosa & Valcarce, said his client came forward at the urging of other people in her village who also claim to be victims of abuse by different priests.
"One of the side effects of abuse for victims," Cooke said, "is that they're isolated, they're embarrassed and depressed by the whole thing and they've kept this sad secret inside themselves for decades.
"And when they finally come out and start talking about it ... it's a healing step. A lot of people have told us that regardless of what happens in the case, to show the problem is not from them but someone else, it has a healing effect."
The plaintiff is asking for damages due to the sexual assaults, severe emo.tional distress, great mental an.guish, alienation from her family, do.mestic violence and loss of affection from her husband who beat her when she told him of Jacobson's rapes, and other damages and loss.
Jacobson recently retired as a prison chaplain in Oregon, a position he held for 25 years, and now resides at Regis Jesuit House at Gonzaga Uni.versity in Spokane, Wash.
Ronnie Rosenberg, spokesperson for the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese, hadn't had seen the latest Jacobson complaint, but responded by saying the diocese takes all the reported cases seriously, as it does any allegation of misconduct by clergy or Catholic volunteers.
"We are glad that victims come forward and we will do what we can do within our powers to be fair to all the victims after we do an investigation of the complaints," Rosenberg said.
"These are very serious allegations and the bishop is committed to getting to the bottom of this and to bring healing to all who were injured."
Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 459-7546.
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