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  Sex Lawsuit Hits Honolulu Diocese
A Former Nuuanu Parish Priest Is Named in the Alleged Assault

By Debra Barayuga
Honolulu Star - Bulletin
August 1, 2002

A man who claimed he was sexually molested and assaulted by a Catholic priest when he was 10 years old has filed suit against the Catholic diocese in Honolulu and the late priest's estate.

Alexander Winchester, now 51, filed a lawsuit yesterday naming the Catholic Church and estate of Alphonsus Boumeister, former pastor and the only parish priest at St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church in Nuuanu. Boumeister died here Dec. 11, 1972, at age 84.

The suit contends that the church, as Boumeister's employer, failed to warn and protect Winchester from Boumeister.

The church also failed to adequately screen, hire, supervise or control Boumeister, should have known about his conduct and ratified his conduct by keeping him on in the church, the suit said.

Patrick Downes, spokesman for the Honolulu diocese, said they had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment. He said the diocese's attorney would be reviewing the complaint and decide how to respond.

Boumeister was a close family friend who had known Winchester's family for a long time. He also had baptized Winchester and stood in as his godfather, the suit said.

According to the suit, Winchester was enrolled in a seven-week, one-day-a-week catechism session at Blessed Sacrament Church in Pauoa in 1961 when the incidents occurred.

He was allegedly assaulted at least on six occasions in Boumeister's office where he was sent because of his conduct, including being late for class.

What began as fondling turned into assault on the third visit to Boumeister's office, according to Winchester, who has repressed these memories only to have them rekindled only recently with the media attention on sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church.

The following week, Boumeister allegedly told him, "If you tell anyone, God will be angry."

Winchester took this to mean that he or his family would die, so he believed and trusted Boumeister, thinking that if he did not say anything, nothing bad would happen to his family, the suit said.

Winchester has suffered emotionally and psychologically because of the assault, according to the suit.

Philip Brown, attorney for Winchester, said they approached the church asking to meet with officials about his claims but were refused. In a letter sent to Winchester, a church official said the alleged incidents happened more than 40 years ago, that there was no way they could determine whether the incidents had happened and that the statute of limitations had run out.

Downes said Boumeister came to Hawaii in 1915, was assigned to St. Stephen's in 1942 and served there for 18 years, until 1960, a year before the alleged assault.

This is the third complaint that has surfaced this year in Hawaii that involves sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church and the second involving a priest, Downes said.

 
 

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