|Woman Files $14-million Lawsuit against Archdiocese of Portland Alleging Abuse
By Kate Mather
September 28, 2011
A woman who claims she has suffered "significant emotional and spiritual damage" after she was sexually abused as a teenager by a Catholic priest has filed a $14-million federal lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.
The 41-year-old woman accuses Father Edward Altstock of grooming, seducing and sexually abusing her on at least a dozen occasions while he was at St. John the Apostle parish in Reedsport beginning in 1985. The woman said the abuse began when she was 14 and continued until she was at least 18.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday morning, seeks $4 million in general claims and $10 million in punitive damages. The woman said she spent about $200,000 on counseling, psychiatric and psychological medical treatment, and is suing for those costs as well.
In a statement from attorney Kelly Clark and O'Donnell Clark and Crew LLP, which is handling the case, Clark said the alleged abuse has prevented his client from sustaining a romantic relationship, getting married and "recovering her religious faith, among other problems." The lawsuit states she made the connection between her abuse and resulting problems in December 2006.
The suit also claims the archdiocese knew about a "systemic danger of child molestation by its priests" at the time, but didn't warn families, creating a risk for children such as the plaintiff.
"Plaintiff's parents would not have allowed Plaintiff — at the time she met and was befriended by (Father) Altstock, 14 years of age — to be alone with an unrelated 56-year-old man for extended periods for any reason whatsoever, but for the fact that he was a trusted priest," the lawsuit stated.
The allegation was the first ever made against the priest, who retired in July 2001, said Bud Bunce, spokesman for the archdiocese. Bunce said the archdiocese was looking into the claims.
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