Jury Awards Two Men $1.4 Million in Priest Sex Abuse Case

By Ashbel S. Green
The Oregonian [Portland]
May 16, 2007

A Portland jury said today that a Catholic priest sexually abused two teenage boys at a state reform school in the 1970s, and awarded them a total of $1.4 million.

The jury determined that the Rev. Michael Sprauer molested Robert Paul and Randy Sloan at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn in the 1970s.

Because of a possible technical glitch in the verdict form, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Marshall Amiton asked the jury to come back Thursday before formally accepting the verdict. He indicted, however, that he would accept it.

The Sprauer suit was the first priest sex abuse lawsuit ever to go to trial in Oregon and one of the few nationally to reach a jury.

With appeals and additional trials, the Sprauer litigation likely will take years to resolve.

Sprauer was first sued in 2003, but the case was put on hold after the Portland Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection the next year.

The archdiocese emerged from bankruptcy last month, agreeing to pay more than $50 million to about 175 accusers.

As part of the bankruptcy, the archdiocese reached financial settlements with more than a dozen Sprauer accusers. But that did not prevent them from suing the priest and the state of Oregon, which employed him at MacLaren and later at the state Department of Corrections.


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