Man Files Sex Abuse Suit Citing Catholic Priest

By Michael Wilson
The Oregonian
April 23, 2002

Summary: The Portland man's lawsuit is the second to accuse the priest assigned to St. Philip Neri in the 1950s

A 59-year-old Willamette Valley machinist sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland on Monday, accusing a former priest, now deceased, of sexually abusing him when he was 9 years old.

The Rev. Rocco Perone was assigned to St. Philip Neri parish in Portland from 1951 to 1956, before he was transferred by his religious order, the Paulist Fathers, to Utah. The plaintiff, identified on the lawsuit by his initials, R.H., said he was abused for almost two years while a student at St. Philip Neri.

The archdiocese said it has no record of any complaints against Perone. He died in 1992, having spent most of his years since Portland living in Austin, Texas. A spokesman for the Diocese of Austin was not available Monday.

The Multnomah County Circuit Court lawsuit follows another sex-abuse case filed earlier this month against two Mount Angel seminary priests and is among over a dozen archdiocese priests named in recent civil actions. Almost all the priests are dead, the abuse decades old.

Monday's is the second case involving Perone; the first was filed by "M.S." last November and is pending in federal court.

The plaintiff's attorney, Kelly Clark, said his client decided to come forward during the news coverage of several lawsuits against Maurice Grammond, a coastal priest later suspended from priestly duties and currently living in a Gresham home for Alzheimer's patients.

Oregon law allows a sex abuse victim to file a lawsuit at any time, provided it's within three years of the victim's realization of a connection between the abuse and some type of injury, not necessarily physical. Clark said R.H. suffered a loss of faith and harbors much anger and resentment.

Archbishop John G. Vlazny generally addressed the national and local abuse scandals in a letter read during Sunday's Masses:

"I have reminded my brother priests and deacons of your care and concern for them as well as your frustration and anger over the abuse and the inadequacy of our response to the victims. As a church, we cannot undo the past but we, your bishops, priests and deacons, can and will serve you with the trust and fidelity that the gospel deserves."


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