Suit Alleges Former Alaska Priest Molested Girl in '70s
Fairbanks: McCaffrey Was Placed on Administrative Leave in June Because of Allegations
By Lisa Demer
Anchorage Daily News
August 10, 2005
The Rev. Richard L. McCaffrey, a Catholic priest who served decades in Alaska, is accused of sexually abusing a girl in the village of Tununak in 1978 and 1979, when she was 10 and 11.
A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Bethel Superior Court names as defendants McCaffrey as well as the Diocese of Fairbanks and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province. The church organizations knew or should have known about McCaffrey's sexual misbehavior and hid his acts from scrutiny and investigation, the suit filed by Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa contends.
The priest invited the girl, identified in the suit only as June Doe, into his sleeping quarters, took off her clothes and had her masturbate him, the complaint alleges.
"During this molestation, Father McCaffrey would tell Plaintiff that their actions were 'pure,' like those acts of Adam and Eve, in order to make Plaintiff believe that this molestation was normal," the suit states.
June Doe is now married with a family in Western Alaska, Roosa said. She has suffered great pain, humiliation, spiritual theft, lost of trust in priests and other troubles, the suit said.
In May, a 35-year-old woman reported to Alaska State Troopers that she had been molested by McCaffrey when she was 10, according to troopers and news reports at the time. Troopers said they weren't able to pursue the case because so much time had passed. That woman is someone other than June Doe, Roosa said.
In June, the Diocese of Fairbanks announced that McCaffrey was placed on administrative leave because of sexual abuse allegations. He was pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Fairbanks.
He remains on administrative leave and cannot perform his priestly duties within the Diocese of Fairbanks, said Ronnie Rosenberg, director of human resources for the diocese. He now is with the Jesuit community in Oregon, Rosenberg said.
June Doe saw news reports about McCaffrey being placed on leave and contacted the Fairbanks bishop, Donald Kettler, about what she says McCaffrey did to her, Roosa said. But the bishop did not acknowledge the abuse, the lawyer said. That's when she turned to his law firm, which has brought lawsuits involving a number of priests over allegations that they abused children.
The Diocese of Fairbanks is conducting its own investigation into allegations against McCaffrey, Rosenberg said. Its child protection committee has hired an investigator, and once the work is complete, the panel will make recommendations to the bishop.
The suit also alleges the diocese destroyed, shredded or burned evidence. The diocese disputes that any relevant records were intentionally destroyed.
"We are not in the business of doing anything but wanting the truth to emerge on these claims," Rosenberg said.
McCaffrey first came to Alaska in 1974 as an associate pastor and was ordained as a priest that same year, the suit says. He worked in Fairbanks, Tununak, Hooper Bay, Tanana and Bethel during his 31-year career here. He also served as chancellor, a top position in the diocese, for a time.
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