Another Woman Alleges Abuse by Rev. James Poole

Associated Press
September 12, 2006

Fairbanks, Alaska (AP) - A sixth woman has filed a lawsuit alleging she was sexually abused by a Jesuit priest who served in rural Alaska during a four-decade career.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 1 in Barrow, alleges the abuse began when the woman was 6 years old and continued for eight years.

The plaintiff is identified as Jane Doe 5. She is the latest of six women to allege abuse by the Rev. James Poole, the founder of Catholic radio station KNOM in Nome. Jane Doe 1, who later identified herself as Elsie Boudreau, and another woman, Patricia Hess, have reached monetary settlements with the Jesuits and the Fairbanks diocese.

The lawsuit filed by Jane Doe 5 alleges the abuse began in 1965 in Barrow when Doe was a first-grader and Poole was her catechism teacher. At the time, Poole was pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church, as well as a family friend.

The abuse continued in Nome where Poole was transferred a year later and where the plaintiff's family moved shortly after, according to Doe's attorney, Ken Roosa of Anchorage.

The woman alleges the abuse - including sexual intercourse - occurred on "innumerable occasions" over the eight-year period. Poole told Jane Doe 5 not to tell anyone and threatened her with consequences if she did, according to the complaint, which is seeking at least $100,000.

Named in the lawsuit are the 82-year-old Poole, the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese, the Society of Jesus Oregon Province and the Society of Jesus Alaska.

"In the past we've had claims (Poole) engaged in immoral and illegal behavior with adolescents, but she was just 6 years old. The things he did to her, he shouldn't be allowed to walk around as a free man," said Roosa, who represents all five Jane Does.

Poole, who now lives in an assisted living facility in Spokane, Wash., could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Rev. John Whitney, provincial supervisor for the Oregon office of the Society of Jesus, said Tuesday he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

On Monday Whitney told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner he is open to any conversation for settlement with any of the Jesuit complainants.

"I am still looking for healing and am looking to meet with people for just and reasonable settlements," Whitney said.

Ronnie Rosenberg, a spokeswoman for the Fairbanks diocese, said she was aware of the complaint.

"We find all these allegations tragic and disturbing, and we are in the midst of litigation with these Poole cases and pray for everyone involved," Rosenberg said.

According to the Jane Doe 5 lawsuit, Poole's behavior with young girls at St. Mary's Mission Boarding School "and numerous other documented instances of Father Poole abusing his position as a priest and committing the canonical crime of solicitation in the confessional, resulted in his being removed as headmaster (in 1964)."

Poole was transferred to an all-boys high school in Portland, Ore., but returned to Alaska the next year, pastoring at Barrow.

More than 100 lawsuits have been filed against priests or religious volunteers who served in the northern Alaska diocese.


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