Expert: Alleged rape by deacon dealt ‘thermonuclear’ shock waves

By Donald W. Meyers
Yakima Herald-Republic
March 19, 2014

YAKIMA, Wash. — A man suing the Diocese of Yakima for alleged rape by a deacon had made significant progress overcoming abuse as a child but was dealt a serious setback by a subsequent incident involving the deacon when he was a teen, an expert witness testified Tuesday in federal court.

Randall L. Green, who was retained by the plaintiff’s attorneys, said the man had received “fortuitous” counseling at age 12.

But Green told U.S. District Judge Edward Shea that the plaintiff, identified in court records as John Doe, lost all that progress after the July 1999 incident in Zillah.

“The shock waves (from the incident) were thermonuclear, psychologically and physiologically, for Mr. Doe,” Green testified on the first day of the second week of the trial.

Doe alleges in his suit that Deacon Aaron Ramirez invited him to a trailer at Resurrection Catholic Church in Zillah for guitar lessons. Once there, Doe said Ramirez plied him with beer, liquor and sacramental wine, then repeatedly raped him.

Ramirez fled to Mexico shortly after the incident and has not returned to the United States. Doe alleges the diocese failed to properly screen Ramirez before accepting him as a priesthood candidate, and failed to supervise him adequately once he was in Yakima.

Green said in his testimony that Ramirez went from being a confident student athlete to someone who withdrew from friends and family, tried to kill himself several times and drank to excess. Green said the incident left Doe feeling emasculated.

But Ted Buck, the diocese’s attorney, pointed out Doe had his best academic grades the semester after the incident, and was nominated for awards in school clubs that he was supposedly quitting because of the incident.

Buck questioned whether the trauma Doe said he had experienced was a result of the incident, or if it was the result of Doe’s being raped as a 5-year-old by a friend of his mother’s boyfriend.

Buck also grilled a clergy-abuse expert Tuesday, questioning whether he was familiar with standards for supervising deacons training to be Catholic priests.

Richard Sipe, who appeared via video link because of an out-of-state commitment, conceded that he was not familiar with the standards for supervision used in various dioceses around the country.

But Sipe said guidelines put in place by the National Council of Catholic Bishops, which he said were followed in dioceses he had worked with in the 1990s, required priesthood candidates to be closely supervised for their first five years as they transition from the closed life of a seminary to service in a parish with lay members.

Sipe said it was also expected that a parish priest should know what was happening on church property.

Buck asked Sipe if he was aware that Ramirez, who had been removed from one religious order in Mexico while in seminary, was still sponsored by that group for a semester of seminary before another order took up the sponsorship.

Sipe said he had not seen documents to that effect.



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