Woman's Suit Accuses Priest of Sex Abuse

By Michael Wilson
May 7, 2002

Summary: The complaint by a Portlander says the former Gervais pastor molested her in the mid-1970s A second accuser, a 35-year-old Portland woman, sued the Archdiocese of Portland on Monday, accusing Mount Angel priest Louis Charvet of sex abuse.

Charvet, 82, was an assistant pastor at the Sacred Heart parish in Gervais until last month, when a Washington man sued the Archdiocese of Portland, accusing Charvet of fondling himself in front of him at the abbey in the 1950s. Charvet currently resides at the abbey, pending an investigation.

The woman, identified by her initials N.M., joined the lawsuit of David Schmidt, the Washington plaintiff. She said in a written statement that she came forward after seeing news accounts of Schmidt's lawsuit: "I joined the lawsuit to make a difference. Since I was a child, I can remember every detail of the sexual abuse that had happened, but I successfully convinced myself that I was OK.

"I knew there had to be truth to what he said, because of what happened to me," she wrote. Her attorney, David Slader of Portland, said she is in a professional field in Portland.

The lawsuit states that Charvet, in the early to mid-1970s, enticed N.M. into a candle-making workroom and molested her.

The archdiocese has stated that it has no record of any complaint against Charvet and that it was not responsible for his assignment to Mount Angel, run by the Benedictine monks.

The abbey as well has said that it had no complaints about Charvet and that it is investigating the claims. "It's the first we've heard of it," said Richard J. Whittemore, the abbey's attorney.

Second suit In another lawsuit filed by Slader on Monday, Tom Barnett, 53, a Portland contractor, sued the archdiocese, accusing the late Rev. Francis J. Ford of molesting him for two years in the early 1960s. Ford died in 1984 and lived in Oregon for only a brief time, assigned from 1961 to 1964 to the Ascension parish in Portland, Slader said. The abuse occurred in Portland and on a trip to the World Fair in Seattle, Slader said.

Ford was a member of the Franciscan order, which assigned him to the area, said Bud Bunce, an archdiocese spokesman.

Ford apparently spent his later years in California.

Barnett chose to identify himself in the lawsuit.

"After nearly 40 years of hidden shame and guilt, I have been freed from my silence by the courage of the other men and women who have come forward to disclose their abuse by a priest," Barnett said in a written statement.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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