|Claims against Fairbanks Priest Dropped
Roman Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks
August 3, 2010
A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed the case against a Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse by a Stebbins woman. Federal Judge John Sedwick's action came after the woman withdrew her claims against Fr. Gerald Ornowski, MIC. The woman, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe, charged that Fr. Ornowski abused her in Stebbins in the 1990s when she was a child. The woman filed her claims in May 2009.
Responding to the dismissal, Fr. Ornowski said he forgives the woman who made the claims. "I harbor no animosity against my accuser, even though I have suffered irreparable damage to my good name and the loss of my ministry for a year. I heartily thank all the people who supported me during this ordeal."
Fr. Ornowski has always denied the charges. He was in Massachusetts for medical reasons when the allegations surfaced. The woman sued Fr. Ornowski and his order, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The Fairbanks Catholic Diocese was not named in the suit. However, following diocesan guidelines, Bishop Donald Kettler placed Fr. Ornowski on administrative leave until the issue was settled in court.
Bishop Kettler said he was heartened by the judge's dismissal. "Fr. Gerald's ministry, first in rural Alaska and then for more than a decade at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as chaplain and pastor, has been marked by holiness and distinction. I am glad his name has been cleared."
Judge Sedwick's dismissal, issued May 24, was made with "extreme prejudice," legal language meaning the woman would not be able to file her claims again in court.
Fr. Ornowski's future ministry has not been fully determined by his religious superior. Fr. Ornowski may also come up to Fairbanks occasionally to help the Fairbanks Diocese with the deaconate training.
For more information contact:
(907) 374-9510; Robert Hannon, Chancellor - firstname.lastname@example.org
(907) 374-9511; Ronnie Rosenberg, Dir. of Human Resources / Legal Coordinator - email@example.com
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