Portland-Area Priest May Be Facing Criminal Prosecution

Associated Press, carried in KGW [Portland OR]
October 19, 2005

A Portland priest could be facing criminal prosecution for alleged sexual abuse.

A recent court filing in the Portland Archdiocese bankruptcy case showed that one of the priests accused of abusing half a dozen boys has asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 80 times.

Thomas E. Cooney, the attorney for the Rev. Donald Durand, told The Oregonian that the accusations against his client were false.

"A claimant's lawyer has advised that a client of his contends that he was sexually abused and allegedly it is within the criminal statute of limitations," Cooney said Tuesday. "Father Durand adamantly denies that. But in order to protect his rights, we claim the Fifth Amendment until we can depose this guy to see what he has to say."

Durand was ordained in 1958. He has served in parishes in Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Silverton, before his retirement in 2001 after nine years as pastor of St. Clare in Southwest Portland, said Bud Bunce, archdiocese spokesman.

Hundreds of accusations of sexual abuse have been made in the last few years against more than three dozen Oregon priests. Most of the claims were made after the alleged molester died. The rest became known after it was too late to file criminal charges, since state law dictates that criminal charges generally must be filed against an alleged abuser before the victim turns 24.

Attorney Gary Bisaccio said he has clients who have made accusations against Durand involving conduct from the 1960s to the early 1990s. The 1990s accusations are subject to possible criminal charges because the accuser has not yet turned 24, Bisaccio said.

The revelation about Durand's taking the Fifth Amendment arose in a motion filed Monday seeking to block the deposition of the accuser by attorneys for Durand and the Portland Archdiocese.

Lawyers for the archdiocese are seeking to dismiss the claim, saying it doesn't contain enough supporting evidence and was filed beyond the civil statute of limitations.

In 1983, the Rev. Thomas Laughlin was convicted of molesting two boys in Multnomah County, the first and only time a Catholic priest has faced criminal charges in Oregon.

Information from: The Oregonian,


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