Clinic Therapist Again Target of Molesting Suit

By Sophia Voravong
Journal & Courier
April 16, 2009

A therapist at Alpine Counseling Center in Lafayette is being sued by an Arizona man who claims the former Roman Catholic priest sexually abused him nearly 30 years ago.

The civil complaint, filed Wednesday in Navajo Nation District Court in Window Rock, Ariz., is the second such lawsuit filed in the past 15 months against Charles "Chuck" Cichanowicz.

It accuses Cichanowicz, a West Lafayette resident, of having repeated sexual contact with a then-15-year-old boy on a Navajo reservation in St. Michaels, Ariz.

"We're seeking accountability," said St. Paul, Minn.-based attorney Patrick Noaker, whose client is identified only as John Doe CG in court documents.

"We want to see reform to make sure it does not happen again."

A message was left Wednesday afternoon at a home telephone listing for Cichanowicz seeking comment.

According to Alpine Clinic's Web site, he works with both teenagers age 16 and up and adults primarily on chemical dependency and addiction.

The 15-page lawsuit accuses Cichanowicz, who was deacon and later a priest assigned to St. Michaels parish in St. Michaels, Ariz., in the 1980s, of sexual abuse, assault and battery.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup, the Franciscan Friars Province of St. John the Baptist and Franciscan Friars Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe are listed as codefendants. Those parties are accused of negligence.

John Doe CG is seeking unspecified damages.

Noaker said the alleged abuse -- described in court documents as "grooming behaviors," trips to adult book stores and sexual contact -- began on the reservation. He said they once traveled together to Gallup, N.M.

The prior civil complaint against Cichanowicz, filed in November 2007, accused him of sexually abusing a teenage Navajo boy in the mid-1980s while a priest with a New Mexico parish.

Noaker, who also is representing the earlier plaintiff, said the man in the more recent lawsuit decided to sue based on response from Alpine Clinic's medical director, Dr. Nizar El-Khalili, after the first complaint, saying that the clinic stood by Cichanowicz.

The Alpine Counseling Center is part of Alpine Clinic. A message was left Wednesday at Alpine Clinic for El-Khalili seeking comment.

"What happened years ago is haunting him more than he even knew," Noaker said. "This has really messed him up. ... He felt kind of strongly that it was his moral duty."

Cichanowicz, as a Franciscan priest, served from 1987 to 1990 at St. Boniface Church and from 1990 to 1991 at St. Lawrence Church, according to Journal & Courier archives.

It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether Cichanowicz has obtained an attorney for the most recent allegations.


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