|3 More Claim Sex Abuse by Priest in 1950s
By Jeremy Pawloski
May 30, 2008
Three men allege in a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday that they were sexually abused as boys by a Catholic priest at the former Saint Martin's High School in Lacey in the mid- to late 1950s.
It is the second lawsuit filed this year alleging sexual abuse by Father Leonard Feeney, who died in 1980. Both suits were filed by Seattle attorney James S. Rogers.
"All three came forward separately after the first lawsuit was filed because they, too, were victims of the same priest," Rogers said.
The plaintiff in the first suit, filed in January, is identified by his initials, T.M. The three plaintiffs in the new suit, filed in Thurston County Superior Court, also are identified by their initials: P.R. and A.I., both Mason County residents; and C.D., of Ventura County, Calif.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday names Saint Martin's Abbey and Saint Martin's University as defendants. The high school at Saint Martin's University closed in 1974.
Jennifer Fellinger, a spokeswoman for the university, said Thursday that the school did not have an immediate comment because officials have not seen the new lawsuit.
According to the suit:
• P.R. says Feeney sexually abused him in 1956 and 1957, while P.R. was living in the dormitory at Saint Martin's High School.
• C.D. says Feeney sexually abused him after he enrolled at the school in 1958.
• A.I. says Feeney sexually abused him starting in 1955 and continued the abuse for about a year and a half.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday says Feeney "groomed" and conditioned the plaintiffs to obey and respect him "as a person of authority in spiritual, moral and ethical matters." By indirect threats or promises, Feeney engaged in sexual acts with the children, the suit states. The lawsuit filed in January makes the same claims.
"The plaintiffs have just recently begun to understand that many problems they have had in their lives, and continue to have, were caused by Father Feeney sexually abusing them as boys," the suit states.
It continues, "Defendants failed to warn their congregation, their families, parents, students, and members of the community at large of Father Leonard Feeney's pedophilia. Defendants knew or should have known that Father Feeney had sexually molested boys, and by entrusting boys (including the plaintiffs) to Father Feeney's guidance and supervision, Defendants breached their duty to the children of Saint Martin's. Further, Defendants failed to alert parents of the children of the potential abuse by Father Feeney, thereby reducing the likelihood that victims would be able to seek treatment and remedy, to the extent possible, for their injuries."
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Jeremy Pawloski covers public safety for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5465 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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