|Jesuits Settle with More Than 100 Victims in Sexual Abuse Case
By Megan Baldino
November 19, 2007
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- In a settlement announced Sunday, The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province agreed to pay $50 million to more than 100 victims, for sexual abuse at the hands of their priest.
But the victims say it is now time for the Catholic Church to do the same.
In November of 2004, Peter Kobuk was just coming to terms with a past he thought he could keep hidden in an old, locked-up church in St. Michaels.
He relived his memories as he walked through the church.
"And right there is the bedroom right here and that where all the molestation went on, that's where you were raped," Kobuk said.
It was that church where Kobuk says he was sexually abused dozens of times by Deacon Joseph Lundowski.
Kobuk is one of nearly 60 men who eventually filed suit saying Lundowski had molested them in the largest clergy sex abuse case in Alaska.
Late Monday night Kobuk and another of Lundowski's victims, James Niksik, talked with the media.
"Most of the guys I talked to had a hard time believing it, believing the settlement," Niksik said.
For both men the settlement verifies that abuse took place.
Niksik's own father never believed his claims, beating him for accusing the church of such crimes.
"It's something that's finally off my chest. It's been in the back of my mind since I was a kid," Niksik said. "Being a kid I didn't know anything about the legal system or we could get help for what was done to us."
Word of the settlement came Sunday from Niksik and Kobuk's attorney, Ken Roosa.
Father John Whitney with the Jesuits confirmed the settlement Monday afternoon.
He said the Lundowski cases were tough to come to an agreement on, because he says Lundowski wasn't a Jesuit.
Still, after hearing that Jesuits knew he was causing trouble he could no longer deny those claims.
"In that light that was where I felt it was a real question how responsible at least were members of the society for this," Whitney said.
Finally for the victims, some justice.
But they want more.
The co-defendant in all the cases, the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks, has not been able to negotiate a settlement.
Kobuk and Niksik say the time has come for resolution.
The Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks says it wants to see a negotiated settlement in the case, but does not have the financial resources the Jesuits have.
As for the payout from the Jesuits a mediator will look at each case and based on the severity decide how much each victim gets.
The process could take weeks.
Contact Megan Baldino at firstname.lastname@example.org
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