New Lawsuit Filed against Deceased Woodburn Priest
The Sister of the Plaintiff Filed Her Own Suit Last Week

By Alan Gustafson
Statesman Journal [Salem OR]
May 29, 2002

A 41-year-old Salem woman on Tuesday filed a $2 million sexual battery lawsuit against a former Woodburn priest, alleging she was victimized by him during the late 1960s.

The Marion County lawsuit came a week after the plaintiff's 40-year-old sister, who lives in Beaverton, filed a nearly identical sexual battery complaint against the same priest. The plaintiffs are identified only by their initials.

Both suits allege that when the women were 6 or 7 years old, they were abused by a priest identified as "Father Duffy."

Duffy then was a priest at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Woodburn, according to court papers. Both suits allege that the girls were abused numerous times in the priest's residence next to the church.

The Rev. Francis "Frank" Duffy was assigned to St. Luke's Parish in Woodburn in 1968, according to Catholic church records.

No complaints were made about the priest during his tenure at the parish, said Bud Bunce, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Portland. He said Duffy served in Woodburn from mid-1968 until mid-1970. The priest died in 1992.

The latest plaintiff is a social worker who has been married for 18 years and has two children, said her lawyer, Dan Gatti of Salem.

According to the lawsuit, the woman remembers some of the abuse, "but has repressed much of the conduct and did not discover the seriousness of Duffy's conduct" until the past two years.

"She reluctantly came forward because she knows she needs help, and this is the only way she can get it," Gatti said. "She always thought that she could handle it by herself and realizes now that she can't."

Beyond asking for $2 million in damages, the suit asks for $100,000 to pay for counseling and treatment.

Gatti now represents seven plaintiffs in lawsuits accusing six Catholic priests of sexual abuse.

Alan Gustafson can be reached at (503) 399-6709 or .


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