|Archdiocese Faces 6 More Abuse Suits
Portland - Two Previously Named Priests Plus Two Nuns and a Janitor Are Accused of Various Acts
By Steve Woodward
August 2, 2007
An attorney for six alleged sex-abuse victims says he intends to file federal lawsuits today against the Archdiocese of Portland — the first new cases to be brought since the church resolved its bankruptcy in April.
Kelly Clark, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, also represented many of the dozens of plaintiffs whose accusations forced the archdiocese into bankruptcy more than three years ago.
Those accused include two priests already accused in other cases — the Rev. Thomas Laughlin and the Rev. James Harris — as well as two nuns and a janitor named for the first time.
Archdiocesan spokesmen were not available for comment late Wednesday afternoon on the suits, which are expected to be filed in U.S. District Court in Portland.
All six plaintiffs say in their complaints that they didn't discover until this year or last that the alleged abuse had caused later problems in their lives. That crucial bit of timing enables their suits to be filed within the statute of limitations, even though the abuse was supposed to have occurred decades ago.
Each of the complaints will be filed under assumed names.
A plaintiff identified as John Doe 101, born in 1955, alleges that Sister Patricia Mary Anne, a nun and teacher at the Madeline School in Portland, sexually abused him as many as 100 times over a two-year period beginning in 1964.
John Doe 105 and Jane Doe 101, both born in 1947, allege that Sister Genevieve Marie, a nun and teacher at St. James School in McMinnville, engaged in acts of physical and mental cruelty in the mid- to late 1950s. Named as a co-defendant with the archdiocese is the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, the successor organization to the Sisters of St. Francis of Portland.
Jane Doe 105, born in 1969, alleges that a janitor at All Saints Parish and School in Northeast Portland, identified only as "Carl," induced her to engage in sexual acts dozens of times in a boiler room during the 1980-81 school year.
John Doe 110, born in 1945, alleges that Laughlin provided him alcohol and sexually abused him as many as 100 times at Central Catholic High School — where Laughlin was Doe's Latin teacher — and at Marylhurst College, where Doe was Laughlin's altar boy during Mass. The purported abuse began in 1960.
John Doe 120, born in 1942, alleges that Harris sexually abused him about four times from 1951 through 1954 at St. Joseph Parish and School in Salem and at Harris' apartment.
The lawsuits ask for jury trials and a total of $16.6 million in damages.
The archdiocese's reorganization plan set aside $20 million to pay for future claims such as those Clark intends to file today. The agreement also called for more than $50 million in payments to resolve about 175 cases that had been frozen by the bankruptcy.
Future plaintiffs have until April 30, 2030, to file claims against the archdiocese.
Steve Woodward: 503-294-5134; stevewoodward@ news.oregonian.com
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