3 men allege Oregon coast priest abused them as children, sue for $29M
By Aimee Green
January 10, 2018
[Note: See also the legal complaint.]
Three men who say they were sexually abused when they were boys in the 1970s and 1980s by a Catholic priest on the Oregon coast filed a $29 million lawsuit Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Portland.
The men say a now deceased priest, Pius Brazauskas, abused them when they were between ages 5 and 12 by French kissing them, groping their genitals and pressing himself against them.
Brazauskas was assigned to Holy Redeemer Church in North Bend at the time, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
Peter Janci, one of the lawyers representing the men, said he believes this is the first time anyone has publicly named Brazauskas as an alleged child abuser.
Janci knows of no reports made to police or claims made to the church about Brazauskas, but said his clients will use the civil courts process to find out if police or the church knew anything.
Representatives for the Archdiocese of Portland didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Brazauskas immigrated from Europe to the United States in the 1940s, according to news articles. His time spent in Oregon included a position as chaplain at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene from the 1950s to the early 1970s. In the early 1970s, he moved to North Bend, where he began his work at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church and St. Catherine’s Residence Nursing home, according to news articles.
His obituary in The Oregonian says he retired in 1980 but remained involved at Holy Redeemer and the nursing home until his death in 1990, at age 84.
A Eugene Register-Guard article featuring Brazauskas in 1957 said children were a “special delight” to him and that he was known to them as “Dr. Bubblegum” because he always had gum or candy to hand out to them.
The three plaintiffs in the lawsuit are now in their 40s. Oregon law allows them to file civil action now because they say in the suit that only within the past five years did they recognize the trauma that the alleged childhood sexual abuse has caused in their lives.
The suit seeks $9 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages, citing the history of abusive priests allowed to operate within the archdiocese's ranks over the decades.