|Judge: Bishop Liable for Layman's Actions in Sex Abuse Case
By Mary Beth Smetzer
February 2, 2008
Judge Niejse Steinkruger ruled against the Fairbanks diocese, which claimed it wasn't liable for Lundowski's abusive conduct while he was under the supervision of Jesuit priest George Endal from approximately 1959 through the summer of 1975.
Steinkruger issued the partial summary judgment on the motion initially filed in May by the plaintiffs' attorneys.
Tuesday's ruling is not a verdict and will not automatically preclude a trial. Under Steinkruger's direction, attorneys on both sides have selected 10 test cases that will soon be scheduled for evidentiary hearings in late summer to determine if the statute of limitations applies in any of them. Those decisions will decide whether any case goes to a jury trial.
Attorneys on both sides are preparing to meet court-imposed deadlines for expert reports, depositions, witness and lists.
Lawyers for both the plaintiffs and the diocese declined to comment on the latest court ruling.
Lundowski, who died in Chicago in 1996 at age 81, is a defendant in 60 of 132 sexual abuse claims lodged against the diocese.
The 60 Lundowski plaintiffs were among the 110 who settled with the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province and Alaska for $50 million in November.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs contend that Lundowski molested children during a span of 16 years while under the direct supervision of Endal, a Jesuit priest and member of the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, in the employ of the Fairbanks diocese. They allege the diocese is liable for failing to protect children despite their knowledge of Lundowski's abuses.
According to diocesan and Jesuits records and the affidavits of plaintiffs presented by their attorneys, Lundowski was recruited by Endal in the late 1950s as a worker in the Diocese of Fairbanks at Clark's Point and the Holy Rosary Mission in Dillingham, where Endal was the father superior.
At the mission, Endal placed Lundowski in charge of the boys' dormitory, among other duties.
Excerpts from an affidavit by James Doe 29 state that beginning at age 6 he was abused many times by Lundowski, and older boys at the mission were also abused with the abuse stopping when "Brother Joe" left Dillingham with Endal.
James Doe 29 further alleged that Endal witnessed his being abused by Lundowski and told him to stay away from Lundowski because it wasn't safe.
"I tried to protect myself, but I was only a child," he said.
Lundowski followed Endal to Nulato in 1962 but the stay was short-lived when he was involved in a scandal "with a person who was not a woman."
Correspondence cited between Father Jules Convert, Jesuit superior, and Father John Gurr, vicar general of the Fairbanks diocese, in 1965, mentions the Nulato scandal as well as Lundowski's inability to get along with his superiors there. But ultimately Lundowski was not discharged from his duties by Bishop Gleeson and went on to join Endal in Hooper Bay.
There, Lundowski continued to victimize children and the abuse accelerated when he and Endal were transferred to St. Michael's and Stebbins in 1968.
That same year, Endal petitioned the diocese to allow Endal to distribute Holy Communion to assist him which was granted in 1969.
In both villages, Lundowski served as a defacto Deacon, giving homilies, conducting religious services and giving Communion to the faithful and sick. He also served as catechist to village children, ages 5 to teens, and frequently abused them after Mass or catechism classes.
During this period, a plaintiff states in an affidavit that he told Endal in confession about Lundowski molesting him and Endal told him not to tell anyone about it and that if he did it would be a mortal sin. Other affidavits included descriptions of sexual molestation by Endal as well.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.