Judge to Rule in Mid-March on Motions in Priest Lawsuit

Associated Press, carried in KGW [Oregon]
March 3, 2007

A judge said he would decide in about two weeks on motions in a lawsuit asking that a Jesuit priest who impregnated two women decades ago pay child support to his two grown sons.

Judge Peter Ashman heard oral arguments Friday on motions in the case against the Rev. James Jacobson, an 83-year-old former Jesuit priest, and said he would rule by March 16.

Among items he will decide is whether the statute of limitations on bringing a lawsuit had expired and whether Jacobson's vow of poverty and transfer of earnings and other assets to his religious order, and its obligations to provide for him, can make it liable for unpaid child support.

Jacobson has turned his earnings over to the Society of Jesus Oregon Province, which covers Alaska, and attorneys for the order say it is not liable for a child support debt.

The lawsuit against Jacobson was filed by the two unnamed men and the mother of one of them. One son had sought nearly $325,000 in child support and the other more than $270,000, figures attorney Chris Cooke said had changed upward because interest accumulation had been miscalculated.

Jacobson worked in Alaska from about 1961 to 1976 in Yup'ik villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. After leaving Alaska, Jacobson worked as a paid chaplain in a prison in Oregon from 1979 to 2005. He currently lives in a Jesuit home in Spokane, Wash.

Cooke has previously argued being a priest does not erase the responsibility to care for one's children.

Since his children were born, Jacobson received more than $1.5 million in salary and pension, but it all went to the Jesuits and neither he nor the religious order gave his children any money, the lawsuit says.

Jacobson's paternity was established through DNA testing and a Bethel judge in May declared him to be the biological father of both John Does.

Their mothers were sexually assaulted by Jacobson and became pregnant, according to a lawsuit filed in Bethel Superior Court in October 2005. Both were married at the time, the suit said.


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