Former Altar Boy Files Lawsuit against Archdiocese

By Amalie Young
Associated Press State & Local Wire [Portland Ore]
December 12, 2001

A former altar boy has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Baker, claiming he was repeatedly abused by his priest years ago.

The $1 million lawsuit filed Tuesday in Deschutes County Court claims that the Rev. David Hazen, who died in 1983, abused the plaintiff, identified only as T.R. during the late 1950s.

T.R., who now lives in western Washington, claimed the abuse began when he was about 14 years old and was serving as Hazen's altar boy. T.R. helped serve mass when the priest visited small outlying parishes that did not have a resident priest.

Some of the trips requires overnight stays, and it was then that Hazen allegedly engaged in repeated sexual acts with the boy, the lawsuit claims.

"I now realize the abuse was always eating away at me," said T.R., now in his 50s. "I have fought a long uphill battle with depression my entire adult life. ... No area of my life has escaped impact."

The lawsuit was the latest to be taken up by Portland attorney David Slader claiming sex abuse by Catholic priests. Last month, he filed an $8.6 million lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Portland on behalf of two women who claimed they were repeatedly abused by their priest and that a nun witnessed the abuse but did nothing.

Last year, the Portland archdiocese settled a lawsuit filed by 23 former altar boys who said they had been abused by Rev. Maurice Grammond, who served parishes in Portland, Oakridge, Seaside and other rural churches until he retired in 1986.

Fourteen other men have since filed a separate suit against Grammond and the archdiocese. Grammond lives in a Gresham home for Alzheimer's patients.

Four men also are suing the archdiocese for alleged abuse in the 1960s and 1970s involving Rev. Aldo Orso-Manzonetta, who served as parish priest in Portland, Newberg and Tillamook. He died in 1996.

"For many years, there has been a serious problem of pedophiles in the priesthood," Slader said Wednesday. "People are feeling that they are safe, that they can now come forward and disclose their views."

Slader said he expects others to come forward in the case involving Hazen.

The Diocese of Baker's Bishop Robert Vasa said the lawsuit was the first alleging sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese, which covers a 66,000-square-mile area covering all of Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains.

Over the years, Hazen served parishes in The Dalles, La Grande, Pendleton, Baker, Klamath Falls, Ontario, Burns and Wasco.

"There is very little I can say," Vasa said Wednesday. "I am extremely saddened that a lawsuit has to have been brought. ... And I am extremely saddened that his individual suffered enough to the extent that a lawsuit was brought."

Since Vasa was appointed in 2000, he said he has talked to priests about the necessity of being prudent and about interpersonal relationships "if they sense in themselves any weaknesses or shortcomings."


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