Former Altar Boy Alleges Hermiston Priest Abused Him, Files Federal Lawsuit
By tuart Tomlinson
September 4, 2014
A man who said he was sexually abused as a boy in the late 1980s by a Capuchin priest in Hermiston filed an $8.1 million lawsuit Thursday against the Capuchin Franciscan Friars, the Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Baker and a Hermiston church.
According to the federal suit, the boy was abused by Father Luis Jaramillo in the fall of 1988 and the winter of 1989. Now in his mid-30s, the man identified in the suit as "John JP Doe" says Jaramillo trained him as an altar boy and then regularly molested him on parish grounds at the Our Lady of Angels parish in Hermiston.
The suit alleges that Jaramillo was transferred from Los Angeles to Hermiston in 1987 after he was accused of molesting two boys.
After the Hermiston boy told his mother about the abuse and that Jaramillo threatened to kill him if he resisted, the mother complained to church officials, the suit alleges.
A Capuchin Franciscan supervisor asked Jaramillo about the alleged abuse; court documents say Jaramillo admitted to "kissing the boy on the mouth and petting his legs and fondling his genitals."
After learning of the confession, the chief executive of the Western American Province of the Capuchin Franciscan Order, the lawsuit alleges, traveled to Oregon to discourage the boy's mother from taking the allegations to local police.
Lawyers for the plaintiff said that the executive didn't tell the boy's mother that Jaramillo admitted to the abuse, but instead told her that her son would be "subjected to scorn and isolation" and that prosecuting the priest would "turn souls away from the church and cost those persons their soul."
"This is a tragic case of a parent being threatened with eternal damnation if she reported a crime against her son," Anthony M. De Marco of Pasadena, Calif., an attorney for John JP Doe, said in a statement. "The Capuchins knew that Jaramillo was molesting kids before he even came to Oregon. He admitted to molesting this boy. Then afterwards, they did everything in their power to protect Jaramillo from going to jail, or from the truth coming out."
The case was never reported to police, but Jaramillo was transferred to a church in New Mexico for counseling, according to court documents.
Over the past 25 years, Jaramillo remained active in the church in Mexico, Argentina and the Philippines, the plaintiff's attorneys said.
Officials with the Capuchin order could not be reached for comment; the Diocese of Baker did not return calls.