Woman Sues Jesuits of Oregon for $5 Million

By Joseph B. Frazier
KGW [Oregon]
February 28, 2007

An Oregon woman has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits, claiming she was molested by two priests as a young girl.

The unidentified plaintiff, now 48, accuses the Rev. James E. Poole and the late Rev. John Duffy of molesting her when she was 7 or 8 and a student at St. Mary of the Valley School in Beaverton.

Duffy died in 1992. Poole is in an assisted living center in Spokane, Wash.

The lawsuit alleges the Jesuits became aware in about 1960 of Poole "behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner" with minor girls at a boarding school in Alaska and transferred him to Portland in 1964 with no apparent restrictions on contact with minors or females and without telling parents or parishioners of his past.

It said Poole was transferred to Portland despite the religious order having "clear knowledge" that he had a "deviant sexual interest in young girls."

Portland attorney Kelly Clark, who filed the lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court, said Poole was the subject of a similar lawsuit filed by Elsie Boudreau, of Alaska, that was settled in 2005 for the disclosed sum of $1 million.

Duffy also worked at St. Luke's church in Woodburn from 1968 to 1970 and at Mount Angel Abby.

In response to the new lawsuit, the Very Rev. John D. Whitney, the Provincial for the Oregon Province, said: "We take all claims of this nature very seriously and we will investigate them to the fullest extent."

"It is important to know that those who have come forward in these matters are not our enemies or our opponents; but our sisters for whom we desire healing and compassion," he said in a statement.

The Oregon-based province covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. It is separate from the Portland Archdiocese and reports to superiors in Rome outside the Vatican.

Clark said the lawsuit is not subject to the bankruptcy protection of the case involving priests filed against the Archdiocese of Portland and that his client makes no claim against the archdiocese, only the Jesuits.

In 2004 the Archdiocese of Portland became the first in the nation to file for bankruptcy protection against abuse lawsuits. It recently proposed a $75 million plan to settle more than 160 remaining claims against it.


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