Suits Accuse Two Jesuits of Sex Abuse

By Mary Beth Smetzer
Fairbanks News-Miner [Alaska]
September 23, 2006

The names of two more Jesuits were added to a growing list of accused clergy as two more sexual abuse civil suits were filed this week in Alaska Superior Courts.

In Fairbanks, two men identified as Jimmy Doe 1 and 2, allege the Rev. Norman Donohue, a Jesuit priest, sexually abused them and other male children when he was resident pastor in Kaltag and Nulato. Donohue died in 1983 at age 75.

In Bethel Superior Court, Jenny Does 1 through 3 filed suit claiming they were sexually abused as children by Jesuit brother Ignatius J. Jakes, an Inupiat Eskimo. Jakes died in 1999 at age 75.

The latest complaints bring the number of individuals named in similar suits against the Fairbanks diocese and the Society of Jesus Alaska and Oregon Province to 14. The tally includes 12 Jesuits and two Catholic volunteers.

"We pray for people who have been affected in this way. It is always a tragedy to hear of these incidents, said Ronnie Rosenberg, human resource director for the Fairbanks diocese. "We're in litigation and we can't say much more."

Attorneys Ken Roosa of Anchorage and John Manley of Newport, Calif., representing the plaintiffs in both cases, said given that the alleged abuse occurred later in the life and careers of both abusers, they are suspicious that there may be many more victims.

Rosenberg said Bishop Donald Kettler was not aware that either Jakes or Donohue had pedophile issues.

"We're combing through the files to see if we have not seen thus far what would be cause for concern," Rosenberg said.

As alleged victims step forward, Manley said the process resembles exposing a hidden iceberg.

"We're not sure if we've exposed the tip or the entire body," he said. "The tragic thing is this is going to get worse before it gets better."

The Jimmy Does' lawsuit is the first one filed in the 4th Judicial District. Donohue's 42 years in Alaska were primarily spent among Yup'ik Eskimos along the Bering Sea and six years in Bethel when he was general superior for all Jesuits in the state. He served for six years in the Interior between 1967 and 1974. He was pastor in Kaltag and Nulato and visited the village of Koyukuk as well.

The two Donohue complainants state they were altar boys at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Nulato when Donohue was pastor.

Jimmy Doe 1 alleges that he was between 6 and 9 years old, in 1970 through 1973, when the molestations occurred. He states that he and other males were invited by the priest to his living quarters after catechism. There the priest would fondle and perform oral sex on the boys and require them to do the same to him.

A similar description of the abuse is given by Jimmy Doe 2, who was 5 through 8 years of age at the time of the abuse.

The lawsuit filed by Jenny Does 1-3, allege sexual abuse by Jakes occurred in St. Marys where he was stationed for 23 years of the 55 years he was a Jesuit brother.

Jenny Doe 1 claims Jakes sexually assaulted her four times when she was a child of 5, 6 or 7 years old, between 1983 and 1986. The molestations under the guise of "playing doctor" included sexual intercourse.

Jenny Does 2 and 3 were of a similar age during the same time period and allege Jakes' molestations included finger penetration.

Lawyers for the complainants are asking for jury trials in both cases.

The Rev. John Whitney, Oregon Province provincial, has been traveling and said he didn't have any information on the latest lawsuits and was unable to comment.

Mary Beth Smetzer can be reached at or 459-7546.


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