Eugene Man Sues Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, Accuses Retired Priest of Molestation

By Bryan Denson
The Oregonian
September 19, 2011

A Eugene man today joined a clutch of other men who have formally accused a retired Catholic priest of serially molesting them during their boyhoods.

The 34-year-old plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Portland's U.S. District Court that accuses Donald Durand, now 77, of sexually abusing him while the priest was posted to a parish in Silverton during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He is one of at least 11 men to formally accuse Durand of sexual abuse during the priest's many years of service at parishes up and down the Willamette Valley, according to lawyers familiar with the cases.

Today's lawsuit names as defendants the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon and the Roman Catholic archbishop of Portland in Oregon and his successors.

Durand, who is not named as a defendant, has previously denied allegations that he sexually abused children. He did not answer the phone today at the Gresham home where he reportedly lives.

Archdiocese officials said Durand retired in July 2001 and later was placed on permanent leave because of the allegations against him. Durand was never charged with any crimes, but was stripped of his abilities to act as a priest, they said.

"Obviously," spokesman Bud Bunce said, "we could say there were enough allegations there that the church felt there were some violations."

Durand submitted to a deposition on the allegations in July 2005, but he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination more than 80 times.

Portland lawyer Jason Kafoury, who represents the Eugene man named in today's lawsuit, said his client seeks $3 million for pain, suffering and emotional trauma. He said his client's most intimate relationships have been harmed by what happened to him as a boy.

"Most of the abuse happened with Durand taking underage boys to his private cabin near Detroit Lake over the course of 30-plus years," Kafoury said. "And how the Catholic Church allowed 12- and 13-year-old boys to go alone on camping trips, or overnight stays, with a priest is unimaginable."

The lawsuit filed by Kafoury accused Durand of gaining the support and permission of his client's parents to be alone with him. But the complaint did not include specific allegations of abuse.

West Linn lawyer Gary Bisaccio said he has represented several men who accused Durand of sexually abusing them at parishes in Salem, Corvallis, Portland and Hillsboro. The alleged abuse in those cases ranged from the early 1960s to the 1980s. Monday's case brought more recent claims.

"Now," said Bisaccio, "the allegations span four decades."

Some of Durand's accusers hailed from St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Portland. They claimed the priest required them to strip to their undershorts and wrestle with him and with one another, strip naked and join him in a sauna.

One accuser said he was made to flog the priest on the bare back with a leather strap; the same man said Durand also took him to a beach cabin, immobilized him during the night and sexually abused him. The priest also faced accusations of fondling, oral and anal sex.

The Archdiocese of Portland filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2004 rather than go to trial in another sex-abuse case seeking $125 million in punitive damages.

A bankruptcy plan approved in April 2007 paid more than $50 million to 175 people who claim they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic clergy. The plan also set aside another $20 million for future claims, such as the one filed Monday.

Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.