Man Alleges Sex Abuse by Priest in 1961

By Waite David
Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, HI)
August 1, 2002

Another Hawaii resident has filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest here years ago.

The suit, filed yesterday on behalf of Alexander W. Winchester by Honolulu attorney Philip Brown, accuses the late Rev. Alphonsus Boumeister of sexually assaulting Winchester when he attended catechism classes in 1961 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Nuuanu.

Catholic Diocese spokesman Patrick Downes said the priest died in 1972 at the age of 84.

"There is no way to tell if there were prior allegations against him, but as far as we know, these are the first," Downes said.

He said Boumeister took his vows in Belgium and came to Hawaii in 1915. He said church officials would have no comment on Winchester's lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Winchester was in the seventh grade, enrolled in the catechism class, in October 1961 when Boumeister sexually assaulted him several times over a period of weeks.

In a June 24 letter to officials at the Catholic Diocese of Hawaii, Brown outlined the allegations.

"As I am sure you can imagine, the sexual molestation of Alex Winchester resulted in deep psychological scars," Brown wrote. "It is my understanding that Alex Winchester has been in and out of psychological therapy since his youth . . ." He suggested the matter could be settled out of court.

In a reply dated July 10, church attorney Robert Graham Jr. told Brown that since Boumeister is dead, there is no way to verify Winchester's allegations "concerning events alleged to have occurred over forty years ago.

"The alleged misconduct was certainly never approved nor condoned by the Church and the Church is not liable to Mr. Winchester for any resulting injuries," Graham wrote.

Brown said yesterday that while Boumeister is dead, Winchester is not and has passed a lie detector test regarding his allegations.

In May, two Oahu men filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Church in Hawaii and a different priest, claiming they were sexually assaulted by the priest during the 1980s while participating in an altar boy program at a Catholic church in Kalihi.


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