Tigard Man Files Lawsuit against Catholic Priest

By Rick Bella
Oregonian [Portland Oregon]
December 24, 1994

Saturday, December 24, 1994 TIGARD MAN FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST CATHOLIC PRIEST Summary: The $5 million suit alleges a Franciscan friar molested him more than 20 years ago at St. Anthony's Church in Tigard A Tigard man has filed a $5 million lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleging that a Roman Catholic priest sexually molested him more than 20 years ago at St. Anthony's Church in Tigard.

Steven Fearing, 38, filed suit this week against the Rev. Melvin Bucher, a Franciscan friar now serving in California.

The lawsuit, filed on Fearing's behalf by Wilsonville attorney Kelly Clark, also names as defendants Bucher's order and the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon.

Patrick Kelly, the business director for the archdiocese, declined to comment on the suit Thursday, saying church officials still were studying the documents.

Attempts to contact Bucher were unsuccessful.

Under Oregon's statute of limitations for sexual assault cases, a victim may make claims as long as three years after he recognizes that he was a victim. In Fearing's case, he maintains that he had been under continual therapy since 1972, but did not recognize until October 1993 that the alleged sexual assaults had caused him harm.

According to the suit, Bucher used his position and influence as a priest to gain Fearing's confidence from 1970 to 1972. Bucher then allegedly sexually assaulted Fearing. He exposed himself, kissed Fearing, touched his genitals and performed oral sex on him, the lawsuit says.

In October 1993, the suit says, Fearing realized that he had suffered physical and emotional injury, pain and suffering, emotional trauma and permanent psychological injury.

The lawsuit also says that Bucher tried to re-establish contact with Fearing after the alleged sexual assaults, inflicting emotional distress.

St. Anthony's, the Franciscans and the archdiocese should have known before hiring Bucher that he would engage in inappropriate sexual contact with minors, the lawsuit says.

The suit seeks $2 million in general damages and $1 million in punitive damages from Bucher, the archdiocese and the Franciscans for assault and battery.

The suit seeks an additional $2 million in general and punitive damages from Bucher, the archdiocese and the Franciscans for intentionally inflicting emotional distress.


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