|Jesuits Respond to N. Idaho Abuse Allegation
A Representative of the Jesuit Order of Catholic Priests Says the Jesuits Will Fully Investigate Allegations by a North Idaho Woman Who Has Filed a Lawsuit Contending She Was Raped by a Priest When She Was 7 Years Old
October 16, 2008
LEWISTON, Idaho — A representative of the Jesuit order of Catholic priests says the Jesuits will fully investigate allegations by a north Idaho woman who has filed a lawsuit contending she was raped by a priest when she was 7 years old.
The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, issued a statement Tuesday in response to the lawsuit filed last week in 2nd District Court by Kim "Mia" Sonneck, who is asking for damages in an amount exceeding $10,000.
"The Oregon Province takes these allegations seriously and will investigate them to the fullest extent," Provincial Rev. Patrick Lee said in the statement, the Lewiston Tribune reported. "The Province is committed to a just and healing course in all cases of priest misconduct."
Sonneck, now 41, said she never told anyone about the abuse and that she repressed the memories until last year. She said she decided to speak out as part of a healing process.
In the lawsuit, Sonneck alleges the Rev. A.J. Ferreti started abusing her around 1973, when she was about 7 years old. Ferreti served as a priest in and around Lapwai in the 1970s. He died on June 29, 1982, according to the Oregon Province.
While serving as a Catholic priest in Lapwai, Ferreti provided marital and spiritual counseling to her family, Sonneck said, and he would get her away from her parents under the pretext of giving her parents time alone.
Lee said he prays that legal proceedings bring reconciliation and healing.
The province encompasses the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, according to its Web site.
According to the lawsuit, the Jesuits' Oregon Province knew or should have known the priest "would use his clerical cloak as a cover for the sinister and perverted purposes of grooming and sexually exploiting said vulnerable children."
Sonneck also alleges the Jesuit order knew or should have known that Ferreti was a danger to children and that Indian children in particular were vulnerable to sexual exploitation by priests. Sonneck is a member of the Nez Perce Tribe.
The lawsuit is being pursued under an Idaho statute that allows lawsuits concerning child sexual abuse claims to be filed within five years of the time the person discovers the abuse and its relationship to an injury the person suffered.
The American Psychological Association says the theory that memories can be repressed and later remembered is a controversial one among psychologists.
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