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  More Church Lawsuits Filed
Four Willamette Valley Priests Add to the List of Clerics Accused of Abuse

By Alan Gustafson
Statesman Journal [Salem OR]
May 2, 2002

Two priests sexually preyed on a young boy at a Gervais church in the 1950s, forcing him to have oral sex with them and to watch the two clergymen engage in group sex with several other boys, a lawsuit claims.

The Multnomah County suit, filed Wednesday on behalf of a man identified only by his initials, accuses the Rev. Martin Doherty and a second priest - identified as Friar Raleigh - of sexual battery. It seeks $5 million in damages.

Two separate lawsuits filed Wednesday raised additional allegations against area priests: A Marion County lawsuit alleges molestation of an unidentified teen-age boy more than 20 years ago by the Rev. Kenneth Jacques, the former pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Gervais. Jacques also stands accused in another molestation complaint filed last week.

A Multnomah County lawsuit alleges rape and molestation of Salem resident Allen Dale Potts more than 30 years ago at St. Mary's Home for Boys in Washington County. Potts resided at the Catholic-run adolescent treatment center from 1968 until 1971.

Potts, now 42, was 9 to 12 years old when he was repeatedly assaulted by a priest named "Father Boyle," who worked at the center, according to the suit. It says Potts does not know the priest's first name.

The three new suits are the latest in a flurry of litigation alleging sexual abuse by Catholic priests, three of which are in Marion County parishes.

In the past three weeks, five lawsuits have accused seven priests of decadesold rapes and sexual molestations in Mount Angel, Gervais, Oregon City and the Washington County treatment center.

Doherty was parish priest in Gervais and Raleigh was a priest at the Oregon City parish when the alleged sexual abuse occurred there, court papers say. The attacks reportedly started in 1956, when the boy was 12 or 13, and continued for 1A years.

Salem lawyer Dan Gatti, representing the alleged victim, now retired, said the abuse took place at priest quarters in Gervais and Oregon City.

The two priests were friends, according to the suit. Both are accused of sexually abusing the plaintiff and forcing him to watch the two priests engage in group sex with other minors.

The suit names as defendants Doherty, Raleigh, the Archdiocese of Portland and the archbishop. Doherty is deceased, according to archdiocese records. In the absence of a first name, church officials could not immediately determine if Raleigh is alive.

Church officials said the allegations would be investigated.

"The alleged events occurred nearly 50 years ago," the archdiocese stated in a written response to the suit. "As the Archdiocese has noted before, dealing with a lawsuit involving things which allegedly happened 50 years ago, particularly when a priest named is deceased, presents great challenges to the legal system as well as to the Archdiocese of Portland, its people and and its leaders."

Salem resident Potts alleges that the priest-inflicted abuse he suffered at the adolescent treatment center caused him to suffer severe emotional and physical problems, including depression, suicidal ideation, sexual identity crisis, schizophrenia, paranoia, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, anxiety, fear and confusion.

Potts' suit, filed on his behalf by Salem attorney Kevin Lafky, states that he has been treated for mental illness for 15 years. It seeks $5 million in damages.

The suit accuses another priest, identified only as "Father Hamilton," of negligence for failing to report Boyle's alleged abuse of Potts.

The Archdiocese of Portland operated the St. Mary's treatment center, according to the suit. It is named as a defendant, along with the archbishop.

Archdiocese officials could not be reached Wednesday evening for comment on Potts' suit.

In another lawsuit filed Wednesday by Gatti, a second man alleges that he was molested by the Rev. Jacques in 1978.

Last week, Jacques was placed on administrative leave from his pastoral duties at Sacred Heart Church after a 40-year-old computer industry employee filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against him.

In that suit, Andrew Fletcher of Portland alleges that Jacques repeatedly molested him in a camper during a two-week trip to San Francisco during the summer of 1978. Fletcher was 16 at the time.

The new complaint against Jacques, filed in Marion County Circuit Court on behalf of a man identified only by his initials, alleges that Jacques molested the boy, then 14 or 15, during a trip to Klamath Falls in the spring of 1978.

Staying at the Klamath Falls Catholic Rectory, Jacques allegedly shed his clothes and climbed into the boy's bed, where he molested him "for hours as plaintiff laid still in complete and paralyzing shock, feeling dirty, abused, shamed and guilty."

Gatti said the victim now works in the construction industry.

The suit, which seeks $5 million in damages, names as defendants Jacques, the Archdiocese of Portland and the archbishop, the Mount Angel Abbey and the order of Benedictine monks, who founded the abbey in 1882 and continue to live and work there.

Jacques was principal at a Mount Angel Abbey prep school for boys interested in becoming priests when the molestation cases occurred, Gatti said.

Jacques served at the school from 1975 until 1979, according to church records. The school closed in 1979.

After the first lawsuit was brought against Jacques, he was recalled to the abbey from Gervais.

Rita Baiocco Kester, a spokeswoman for the abbey declined comment, saying she had not seen the lawsuit.

Gatti, who declined to say where his two new plaintiffs live, said it was no mystery why they wanted to be identified only by their initials.

"Because of the shame," he said. "They are coming forward after living with years of shame. These priests stole these children's innocence, and they have had to live with that for the rest of their lives."

Gatti said the law recognizes that victims of childhood sexual abuse may not confront the trauma for many years, even decades.

"I think it's fair to say the victims know they were abused, but they don't know the extent of their injury and make a causal connection to the abuse and the injury they suffer all their lives," he said. "While they may remember the abuse, it's the injury that comes popping out 40 years later. That's why we have special statutes to protect those who were abused as children."

Under Oregon law, a sex-abuse victim may sue within three years of the victim's comprehending the impact of the abuse on his or her life.

 
 

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