Settlement Reached in Nome Priest Abuse Case

The Associated Press, carried in Anchorage Daily News [Anchorage AK]
March 2, 2005

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Roman Catholic Church and a woman who accused a Nome priest of molesting her in the 1970s have agreed to settle a civil lawsuit she filed against the church, her attorney said.

Attorney Ken Roosa said Wednesday that the two sides have reached a binding agreement. The paperwork is being finished on the settlement expected to be in the $1 million range, he said.

Elsie Boudreau, identified in court documents as Jane Doe 1, sued the Rev. James Poole, the Diocese of Fairbanks, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, and the Alaska Jesuits in March last year.

Boudreau went public because she felt it empowered her and would help others to come forward as well, Roosa said.

Boudreau accused Poole, a Jesuit, of kissing and fondling her dozens of times, starting in 1978 during summer visits to Nome and lasting until she was 16. The abuse included heavy petting and having her lie on top of him, the lawsuit says.

Poole, 81, founded KNOM radio in Nome. He first arrived in Alaska in 1948 as a seminarian. He was assigned to Holy Cross, Pilot Station, Marshall, Mountain Village, St. Marys, Barrow and Nome over a 40-year career. Poole now lives in a Jesuit retirement community in Spokane, Wash.

Boudreau said in a recent interview that she decided to sue after discussions with Fairbanks Bishop Donald Kettler about counseling that bothered her. The bishop put parameters on paying for counseling, she said.

Boudreau said the settlement will allow her to move on.

"My hope would be when I look back at it years down the line I'm happy with the decision I made to settle at this point," she said.

The Diocese of Fairbanks and the Jesuits confirmed that they were working on a settlement with Boudreau.

"The diocese is desirous of settling cases that it can settle," said Ronnie Rosenberg, director of human resources for the Fairbanks Diocese. "If we can reach an accommodation with someone that is reasonable and just, that would be the path that we can take."


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