Brothers sue Archdiocese of Portland for $6 million over alleged sex abuse

February 1, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) - Two brothers, who are now adults, have announced they're suing the Archdiocese of Portland for childhood sex abuse.

The plaintiffs allege they were abused as children while living in St. Paul, Oregon by Father James Harris, who served as a Catholic priest in the St. Paul Parish in Silverton during the mid- to late 1960s. One of the brothers also alleges he was abused by Father Maurice Grammond.

According to the lawsuit, the two brothers knew Harris from church and school while they were growing up. Their stepfather was diagnosed with leukemia, which is twhen the lawsuit claims Harris began spending more time with the brothers, taking them on many overnight trips.

"The priest kind of befriended us when my step-father was dying," Plaintiff, referred to as O.M., told KATU by phone. "He started taking us on trips to the coast and that eventually led to him taking me alone."

During one of those trips to Seaside, one of the brothers was allegedly molested by Grammond, who was accused of sexually abusing boys back in 1957.

"He would take each one of us at a different time alone and in the middle of the night," O.M. said of Harris. "[He] started playing with me and making me play with him."

O.M., 59, now lives in Washington state. His older brother lives in Marion County.

"I'll admit I've been a pretty angry guy my whole life," he said. "It's really affected every aspect of it."

The brothers' attorney Gilion Dumas has represented more than 20 cases against the Catholic Church.

"The facts could be shattering," Dumas said. "You know, this is the way that we get these institutions to change."

Dumas says victims of sex abuse sometimes take years, if not decades, to come forward.

"The legal system does only allows them to sue for money," she said. "They can't sue to get their childhood back."

According to court documents, the brothers are asking for jury trials and want $3 million each in damages.

"I was raised Catholic," O.M. said. "I've lost all religion that I've had... God didn't put them there, he put himself there."

Harris, who is now deceased, faced at least four other sex abuse claims, all settled by the Archdiocese since 2006.

Grammond died in 2002. He has been subject to more than 40 sex abuse claims, and is considered one of Oregon's most notorious pedophile priests.

Dumas believes there are more victims who haven't come forward.

In a prepared statement, the Archdiocese of Portland told KATU News:

These most recent allegations and court filings have just been delivered to us today. We are currently looking into them, as we do with every legal matter associated the Archdiocese. And as with previous allegations, we take these very seriously and will cooperate in whatever ways are required by law.



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