Jane Doe 2 Lawyer Asks for Sanctions in Sex Abuse Case|
By Mary Beth Smetzer
Fairbanks News-Miner [Alaska]
February 11, 2006
The attorney representing a woman who says she was sexually abused by a Catholic priest as a child has asked a Nome Superior Court judge to sanction the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese and the Society of Jesus for what he calls the last-minute dumping of evidence.
Attorney Ken Roosa said defense attorneys recently submitted more than 3,000 documents from the diocese long after the deadline to disclose evidence has passed. He also said the Jesuits continue to withhold computer files as the Feb. 27 trial date approaches.
Jane Doe 2 is seeking damages against the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska and the Jesuits for what she claims is a lack of oversight that allowed her to be abused by the Rev. James E. Poole. Nome Superior Court Judge Ben Esch recently severed Poole from the civil suit because the statute of limitations has passed.
Roosa stated in an affidavit filed Monday with the sanctions motion that the defense e-mailed 2,300 pages of documents to his office over the weekend of Jan. 29 and another 1,196 on Feb. 3.
In addition, Roosa said that a computer expert retained by his client in January discovered 5,963 readable e-mails dating back to 2001, but the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, has only turned over about 600.
Robert Groseclose, attorney for the Fairbanks diocese, refutes Roosa's claim in a 66-page opposition filed Friday in Nome. In the filing, he called it "an eve-of-trial effort to distract the court and the parties with what is the plaintiff's self-inflicted failure to review, manage or otherwise follow up on the production made months before. Plaintiff's attack is misguided and unfounded."
Groseclose said in an interview that the diocese has "gone overboard" in providing more than 4,000 pages of documents. He called the documents "minutiae" and said none relates to the complaint.
"They had the priest's name on the document in some form another, whether a list of employees for the year, or publications like the Alaskan Shepherd, KNOM pictures or KNOM newsletters," Groseclose said.
Roosa said a preliminary review of the documents showed them to be relevant to the case. In addition, he said that information gleaned from letters and memorandums shows that the diocese had knowledge of Poole's sexual abuse against one other minor girl as early as 1969.
The Rev. John Whitney, provincial of the Oregon Jesuit province, agreed with Groseclose's assessment of the call for sanctions.
"I don't think this motion is going to be approved; it is another distraction," he said.
Whitney said the process of researching and providing computer information is new to the province.
"We tried to produce as much as we could. We didn't think there would be anything relevant to the case since the case was before we had the e-mail system," he said. "If it was an error on our part it was not intentional."
Groseclose said there may have been confusion on the plaintiff's part about materials also provided for another Jane Doe case.
Roosa said he only discovered the documents when he noticed the numbering system used to catalogue evidence was off.
Jane Doe 2 is the third woman from western Alaska to come forward with allegations that Poole sexually abused her.
Elsie Boudreau settled with the defendants for $1 million dollars after filing a claim as Jane Doe 1. Another woman, Patricia Hess, negotiated a settlement for an undisclosed sum without filing a civil suit.
Three more women, Jane Does 3, 4 and 5, have filed suit since.
Jane Doe 2 alleges Poole sexually abused her more than 100 times over an eight-year period beginning in 1974 when she was 12 years old and continuing until she was 20.
Jane Doe 2 claims in her June 2004 suit that she was 14 when Poole engaged in sexual intercourse with her, impregnated her and told her she needed to "get rid of the baby."
All legal parties to the case will be in Nome on Feb. 16 for an evidentiary hearing before Esch.
When Esch will rule on the sanctions motion is unknown.
Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at email@example.com or 459-7546.
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