Catholic Priest Focus of Sex-Abuse Suit

The Oregonian
September 14, 1989

A 25-year old Portland man who contends he was subjected to "inappropiate sexual contact" for 14 years by a Catholic priest has filed suit seeking more than $2.5 million in damages.

The Multnomah County Circuit Court suit alleges that sexual contact including fondling, kissing and biting occurred on church premises between the plaintiff and the Rev. John Goodrich between 1974 and 1988.

Goodrich is a former pastor and administrator of St. John Fisher Church in Southwest Portland. He retired from that post in 1988, is confined in a nursing home because of ill health and is unable to respond to any allegations, according to Archbishop William J. Levada.

Defendants in the suit are Goodrich and the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, which administers Roman Catholic churches in western Oregon. Levada said in a statement that the plaintiff had been provided with counseling and his allegations were reported to authorities.

The suit, filed Tuesday by Portland lawyer Robert McMenamin, states that the plaintiff was at various times an altar boy, student, parishioner and employee of the church from 1972 to 1988.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff has suffered from depression, partial loss of memory, loss of concentration and alcohol and marijuana abuse as a result of Goodrich's conduct.

The suit seeks unspecified general damages for suffering, $100,000 in estimated future psychiatric costs and punitive damages not to exceed $2.5 million.

The claim for punitive damages rests on a contention that diocese officials had warnings as early as 1973 of "inappropriate" conduct with young boys.

Goodrich is accused of breaching a fiduciary duty to a parishioner, sexual assault and battery and infliction of extreme emotional distress. The diocese is accused of failing to supervise an employee, breaching a fiduciary duty, infliction of extreme emotional distress and failure to report child abuse to a state authority.

In his statement, Levada said the church recognized that child sexual abuse was a serious problem.

"Together with society in general and churches in particular, the Archdiocese of Portland, over the years, has increased its awareness of the problem and the need to respond promptly and thoroughly to any complaints and makes every effort to deal personally with any individual who claims to have been the victim of sexual abuse by any archdiocesan employee," he said.

Levada said the archdiocese would be asking that McMenamin be disqualified because until recently he represented the archdiocese after other allegations of abuse.

McMenamin said he saw no conflict of interest.


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