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  $7 Million Suit Filed

United Press International
August 29, 1986

A $7 million suit filed against a Catholic priest and the Archdiocese of Portland for claims of molestation, has been settled out of court.

The suit was brought against the Rev. Thomas B. Laughlin by a young man alleging he was sexually molested by the priest, who has previously served a jail term on charges of sexually abusing two other boys.

Connie K. Elkins, an attorney for the Archdiocese, said Laughlin, former pastor of All Saints Parish in Portland, and the Archdiocese reached an out-of-court settlement Aug. 19.

The terms of the settlement include a non-disclosure agreement by all parties, Elkins said.

The youth's attorney, Morton A. Winkel, who confirmed the suit had been settled, declined additional comment.

The complaint, originally filed Aug. 8, 1985, in Multnomah County Circuit Court and subsequently amended, accused Laughlin of sexual assault and accused the archdiocese of negligence, breach of trust and outrageous conduct.

The suit contended the archdiocese did not take adequate measures to prevent recurrence of sexual activity between the priest and the plaintiff, despite prior knowledge of Laughlin's behavior with other boys.

The plaintiff, now 21, contended that he suffered from emotional distress described as post-traumatic stress syndrome and had become an alcoholic as a result of an intimate sexual relationship with Laughlin.

The suit claimed that the relationship continued from the summer of 1980, when the youth was 15, through July 1983, just before Laughlin was sentenced to a jail term and a subsequent treatment program after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of sexual abuse involving two other boys.

The suit also contended the sexual relationship recurred in July 1985, while Laughlin was enrolled in a treatment program at the Villa Louis Martin Foundation House in Jemez Springs, N.M., operated by a Catholic religious order.

The suit sought $2 million general damages, $5 million punitive damages, reimbursement for $1,m375 [sic] in counseling costs and other additional costs.

Laughlin, now 60, resigned from his pastoral post at All Saints before entering his guilty plea on the earlier charges on June 29, 1983.

He subsequently was stripped of his right to perform certain priestly functions by Portland Archbishop Cornelius M. Power, who noted that some of Laughlin's "errant conduct" allegedly occurred within the Sacrament of Penance, or confession.

Testimony in 1983 and court records in the recent suit indicate that Laughlin had been sexually involved with boys for about 20 years and that that involvement had been a factor in his leaving a teaching post at Central Catholic High School, where he served from 1948-65.

 
 

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