|Doctor Says Priest's Victims Will Need Therapy
Psychologist Hired by Accusers' Lawyer Says the Men Will 'Never Be the Same'
By Alan Gustafson
Statesman Journal [Portland]
May 5, 2007
Portland — It will take years of therapy to bring psychological healing to three men who allege they were sexually abused by the Rev. Michael Sprauer at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in the 1970s, a forensic psychologist testified Friday.
"After this kind of victimization, you're never the same," psychologist Frank Colistro told a jury of seven women and five men.
The panel is hearing testimony in a sex-abuse lawsuit against Sprauer, a well-known Salem priest who serves at St. Joseph Church. It is thought to be the first Catholic priest sex-abuse case to go to trial in Oregon.
Colistro was hired by Daniel Gatti, the Salem attorney for Sprauer's accusers, to conduct psychological examinations of the three plaintiffs in the Multnomah County case: Randy Sloan, Robert Paul Jr. and Norman Klettke Jr.
Colistro told the jury that all three men suffer from post traumatic stress disorder linked to their alleged sexual victimization at MacLaren.
According to testimony by Colistro and the plaintiffs, their long-repressed memories of sexual abuse surfaced in recent years.
Buried memories flooded back after the men saw newspaper stories about other former MacLaren inmates filing sex-abuse lawsuits against Sprauer, they said.
Since mid-2003, at least 15 men have filed suits against the priest.
All of the accusers received settlements from the Archdiocese of Portland; collectively, they got $600,000, according to Gatti.
The settlement with the archdiocese, which is the governing body for Catholic parishes and priests in Western Oregon, didn't prevent the plaintiffs from proceeding against Sprauer and the state, which employed him at MacLaren.
Sloan, Paul and Klettke are asking the jury to award them additional financial compensation for alleged abuse at the juvenile facility.
It's been a rough go for all three men, Colistro said.
"Once you open up that box ... you're emotionally a mess," he said, referring to recovered memories of abuse. "You're just too fragile to be subjected to much other stress."
Intensive, long-term counseling would help the men deal with their deep psychological problems, Colistro said. Even so, they may not ever fully heal, he said.
"It never goes away," Colistro said.
Attorneys representing Sprauer and the state grilled the psychologist with questions about repressed memories, his methods for evaluating the three men and his conclusions about the harm they have suffered.
In compiling his psychological reports on the three men, Colistro acknowledged that he treated their stories of abuse as truthful accounts rather than unconfirmed charges against Sprauer.
The abuse did not happen, according to attorneys representing Sprauer and the state.
Sprauer's attorney, Thomas Cooney Sr., previously told the jury that Sprauer wasn't employed at MacLaren during the time frames specified for the alleged abuse.
Sprauer's tenure at MacLaren lasted from Oct. 1, 1972, until Jan. 31, 1975, Cooney said.
Klettke, 44, of Portland, told the jury Friday that Sprauer sexually molested him three times at MacLaren, once in a segregation cell and twice in an auditorium broom closet.
He said the abuse occurred in 1978. That was several years after the priest had stopped working at MacLaren, according to his attorney.
Gatti has suggested that Sprauer, held in high esteem by MacLaren employees, continued to have unfettered access to the juvenile facility long after he purportedly stepped down as chaplain in 1975.
agustafs@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6709
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