Priest Files Sex-Abuse Lawsuit against Mount Angel Abbey

Statesman Journal
December 30, 2010

A Roman Catholic priest is suing the Mount Angel Abbey for more than $1 million, alleging that he was sexually abused by a now-deceased priest when he was a teenage student at the abbey in the 1970s.

The priest suing the abbey is identified only as Father X in the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland.

Father X, who was ordained in 1986, claims that he was sexually mistreated by the late Father Emmanuel Clark while attending the abbey's high school, Mount Angel Preparatory, between the ages of 14 and 17.

The suit says Clark hugged Father X with his pants unzipped, pressed Father X's head to his chest, told him that his heart beat with love for him and encouraged Father X to go to adult book stores.

As a result of the sexual mistreatment, Father X suffered physical and emotional pain, an eating disorder, shame, anxiety, sexual orientation confusion, loss of professional identity and loss of his religious faith, the suit says.

Bill Barton, an attorney representing Father X, said he thinks that it is the first time than an active priest has sued an entity of the Roman Catholic Church.

Stephen English, an attorney representing the abbey, said he will investigate whether the alleged hugging and other conduct by the now-deceased priest led to the damages Father X claims.

Father X is about 50 years old today; the lawsuit doesn't list his exact age or the city where he lives or works.

Mount Angel Preparatory no longer exists, but the abbey still is home to a community of Benedictine monks and seminary students about 20 miles east of Salem near Mt. Angel.

In recent years, at least five other sexual abuse suits were filed against a handful of priests affiliated with the abbey. All of the suits alleged decades-old abuse by the priests; some of the accused died long ago.

In 2004, the spiritual leader of the abbey told the Statesman Journal that he expected the religious order and its insurer would spend several million dollars on legal costs and settlements to resolve the suits.

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