Priest Faces 2nd Abuse Lawsuit
By Mary Beth Smetzer
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
October 18, 2005
The former pastor of Immaculate Conception Church has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor by a second woman.
The woman, identified as June Doe 2, claims the Rev. Richard L. McCaffrey sexually abused her in 1980 and 1981 in the Yupik community of Hooper Bay when she was 10 and 11 years old.
The complaint was filed Friday in Bethel Superior Court. The Fairbanks Catholic Diocese and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province and Alaska, are also named as defendants.
McCaffrey was suspended from pastoral duties at the downtown Fairbanks parish last May while the diocese conducted an independent investigation into a sexual abuse claim reported to Alaska State Troopers that allegedly occurred 25 years ago in Western Alaska.
McCaffrey was removed as pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in August, weeks after a suit was filed against him by June Doe 1. The first plaintiff claimed she and others were sexually molested by McCaffrey, beginning when she was 10 in 1978 and 1979. McCaffrey was stationed at St. Joseph's parish in Tununak at the time.
McCaffrey denied any wrongdoing in a May interview and continues to do so today, said the Rev. John Whitney, provincial of the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province. The Jesuits are conducting their own investigation into the allegations.
McCaffrey, through his Fairbanks lawyer, John Franich, has consented to undergo a psychological assessment, according to Whitney.
"Part of this (investigation) is church law and part of this is civil law," Whitney said.
"My goal is to find out what has happened ... find a just and healing solution and that often is difficult in the midst of a court case."
McCaffrey continues to reside under restrictions at a Jesuit residence in Portland, Ore. McCaffrey's lawyer hasn't yet seen the latest complaint, but called it unfounded.
"I have spoken with Father McCaffrey from the beginning of this and Father McCaffrey insists that he hasn't had any sexual contact with any of his parishioners," Franich said. "The complaint is unfounded and we will vigorously defend (against) it."
Ronnie Rosenberg, spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese, said the diocese hasn't received the latest complaint.
"We, of course, pray for anyone who has been injured and we will fully investigate this to the extent that we can," Rosenberg said.
Both June Does claim the abuse took place after catechism class in McCaffrey's sleeping quarters.
In the most recent lawsuit, June Doe 2 stated McCaffrey would tell her during the abuse that her actions were OK and that she should not tell anyone about what was happening. Afterward, he would give her candy and pop to induce her to remain quiet and return to his quarters again.
The lawsuit also contends the diocese and Jesuits knew of McCaffrey's previous acts of abuse against minors, concealed them and moved the priest from community to community.
McCaffrey, 62, was ordained in 1973 and has worked extensively in Alaska since 1967. He ministered in a number of parishes located in Tununak, Nightmute, Toksook Bay, Hooper Bay, Scammon Bay, Bethel, Russian Mission, Marshall, Barrow, Tanana and Fairbanks, and taught at the Copper Valley Catholic Mission School.
Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa, who represents the women, said June Doe 2's life has been devastated by the childhood abuse. The two plaintiffs seek damages for pain and suffering.
Rosenberg said the diocese is making concentrated efforts throughout its widespread 47 parishes to prevent future sexual abuse of children. The prevention programs include training of children, staff, priests, parents, teachers and volunteers.
"We're encouraging people to report any questionable behavior immediately," Rosenberg said.
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