|Former Beaumont Priest Named in Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
By Shannon Dininny
October 14, 2011
A Washington man has filed suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Yakima, Wash. alleging he was sexually abused decades ago by an associate pastor who was ordained in Beaumont.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 3, claims that the Rev. Ernest Dale Calhoun sexually abused the victim, identified only as S.K., when he was a 15-year-old altar boy at St. Paul's Cathedral Parish in the early 1970s. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the diocese, but does not name Calhoun as a defendant. He is no longer an active priest and is believed to be living in Texas.
Calhoun was ordained a priest in Beaumont in 1968. The lawsuit alleges that he sexually abused a teenage boy in Beaumont before transferring to the Yakima diocese.
The Washington man's lawyer, Vito de la Cruz of Tamaki Law, said the lawsuit specifically named the church because it permitted Calhoun unrestricted access to vulnerable youths.
"They are the ones who hired him. They are the ones who transferred him in and out and ultimately are responsible for what happened to the victim," he said.
A telephone number for Calhoun could not be located, and he could not be reached for comment.
The Yakima man, now in his mid-50s, is undergoing treatment for colon cancer and does not want to risk dying "without telling the story of what happened to him," according to de la Cruz.
Calhoun was the subject of at least two other clergy abuse lawsuits, which were filed in the 1990s and settled for undisclosed terms. The diocese also provided counseling to one man and paid an out-of-court settlement of $10,000 to another. Both said they had been abused as teens by Calhoun, according to the Rev. Robert Siler, a spokesman for the diocese.
Siler said the name of the man who filed the latest lawsuit came up in the course of one of those cases in 1994, but only as a witness.
Siler said he was surprised Calhoun was not a defendant in the case.
"We're certainly sorry for any abuse the victim has suffered at the hands of Father Calhoun," he said. "Obviously, if the diocese is at fault then it should be held accountable, but I would think the victims and the attorneys would want to hold the priest accountable as well."
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