Statement Alleges Archdiocese Ignored 5 Warnings

By The Associated Press, carried in the Seattle Times
July 13, 2004

PORTLAND — In an opening statement July 6, attorney David Slader had hoped to lay out what he claims were five clear warnings that church officials here ignored.

But the day he was scheduled to appear in court on behalf of client James Devereaux, who was allegedly molested in the 1960s by the late Rev. Maurice Grammond, the Portland Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy and the trial was halted — as was a public airing of Slader's contention that the archdiocese had tacitly colluded in the abuse of children by priests in Oregon.

According to Slader's opening statement, made available to The Oregonian, church officials ignored repeated warnings that Grammond was abusing children and instead moved him from parish to parish.

According to the opening statement:

• The first of the five warnings was from a man who said that when Grammond was an assistant pastor in Portland in the 1950s, Grammond took the man's son and several other boys camping.

The man's son later told him that Grammond had the boys strip naked, would "mess around" with them and played a game to determine who would sleep with him.

The man and some of the other boys' fathers immediately complained to the pastor at Holy Cross in Portland, who said he would take care of it. Soon thereafter, Grammond was moved to Oakridge, a southern Oregon logging town, where Devereaux was an altar boy at the local parish. Oakridge parishioners were never warned of Grammond's past.

• The second warning came in 1962 or 1963, after a Portland boy told his mother that Grammond had molested him. She told her pastor, the Rev. John Thatcher, who said he'd take care of it.

But nothing happened. Devereaux, meanwhile, was becoming one of Grammond's favorites.

• The third warning came in 1965, when an Oakridge woman became suspicious of Grammond's behavior with her son. Grammond often came to their home for dinner and stayed the night, the woman putting him up in her young son's room.

One night she came home to find a padlock on the inside of her son's door. She reported the incident to a local monsignor, and soon after, in 1966, Grammond was put on sick leave. Five months later, he was assigned to Seaside.

• The next warning was from a former Eugene pastor, the Rev. Vincent Cunniff, who in 1969 drove to Portland to personally deliver his warning to the archdiocese. It had no effect.

• Within a few years, the opening statement maintained, church officials apparently received another warning. In a letter that Grammond wrote many years later, he said that the archbishop requested to see him in 1974.

"We have a witness that saw you abuse a child," Grammond quotes the archbishop as saying. "Who was the witness?" Grammond asked. "He would not tell me. I said: 'How can you have a witness when I didn't abuse anyone?' He said: 'Then be careful.' "

Church lawyers have attacked much of the evidence, calling it unreliable and uncorroborated. They blame Grammond's incriminating statements at the end of his life on his worsening Alzheimer's disease. He died in 2002.

Archbishop John Vlazny announced on July 6 that the archdiocese was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because it had already paid $53 million to settle more than 130 claims and could not risk the possibility of a huge verdict.

While other Catholic dioceses across the nation have considered bankruptcy as a result of having to pay such claims, Portland was the first to file.


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