Portland Churches Face 6 New Lawsuits
Archdiocese Only Recently Emerged from Bankruptcy

By William McCall
Statesman Journal
August 3, 2007

Portland — Six more sex abuse lawsuits were filed Thursday in federal court against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, the first complaints since the archdiocese resolved its bankruptcy with a massive settlement in April.

The lawsuits were filed by Portland attorney Kelly Clark, who also represented many of the alleged abuse victims covered by the $75 million settlement.

The settlement set aside about $20 million for future claims. The amount is the total the church can finance from various sources to meet any claims and not a separate pool of money, said Mary Jo Tully, chancellor of the archdiocese.

The new complaints seek a total of $16.6 million in damages.

Church officials had no comment on the new cases.

Two nuns and a janitor were named in the new complaints, along with two priests who had been named in earlier lawsuits. The new lawsuits did not identify the alleged victims.

According to the complaints:

Sister Patricia Mary Anne, a nun and teacher at the Madeline School in Portland, was accused of sexually abusing a boy as many as 100 times over a two-year period beginning in 1964.

Sister Genevieve Marie, a nun and teacher at St. James School in McMinnville, was accused of physical and mental cruelty against a boy and a girl in the mid- to late 1950s, including "harmful and offensive touching." The complaint also names Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, the successor organization to the Sisters of St. Francis of Portland, as a co-defendant with the archdiocese.

A janitor at All Saints Parish and School in Northeast Portland, identified only as Carl, was accused of inducing a girl to engage in sexual acts dozens of times in a boiler room during the 1980-81 school year.

The Rev. Thomas Laughlin was accused of providing a boy with alcohol and sexually abusing him as many as 100 times at Central Catholic High School, where Laughlin was the boy's teacher, and at Marylhurst College, where the boy was Laughlin's altar boy.

The Rev. James Harris was accused of sexually abusing a boy about four times from 1951 through 1954 at St. Joseph Parish and School in Salem and at the priest's apartment.

Harris has died, but Laughlin is still alive although he was laicized and no longer is a priest, Tully said.

Church officials in Portland did not know any details about the nuns or the janitor, she said.

The archdiocese in 2004 became the first Catholic diocese in the nation to file for bankruptcy.


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