Three Allege Diocese Knew Priest Abused Them As Boys

By Jeff Barnard
Associated Press State & Local Wire [Grants Pass Ore]
February 26, 2002

Three more men have come forward alleging they were sexually abused some 40 years ago by a Roman Catholic priest who worked throughout Eastern Oregon. One of the men says he took his accusations to the bishop and was told to keep quiet.

Seeking $3.8 million each, the unidentified men, who say they were abused in the 1950s and 1960s while teen-agers in Klamath Falls, have been added as plaintiffs to a lawsuit filed last year against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baker alleging the Rev. David Hazen sexually abused a Pendleton alter boy.

Filed Tuesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court in Bend, the amended lawsuit makes the new accusation that the bishop of the Diocese of Baker knew Hazen was using his position as a priest to sexually molest young boys, but took no reasonable steps to stop him or protect the children.

"We have a witness willing to testify that in 1959, he told his mother that he had been abused, and his mother took him to see the bishop, who was Bishop (Francis P.) Leipzig, and Bishop Leipzig told him if he ever told anyone else it would be a mortal sin," attorney David Slader said.

The Rev. Thomas Faucher, judicial vicar of the Diocese of Baker, said from his office in Bend that he knew nothing about the new accusations, and they would be investigated fully.

"We are very sad whenever there are allegations of molestation of any kind against anyone," said Faucher. "In this case the allegations are against someone who has been dead almost 20 years. And we will do everything we can to arrive at the truth of these allegations and do what is appropriate.

"But we need to have the opportunity to truly investigate them and come to an understanding of what these allegations are about."

Slader announced the new victims at a press conference on the steps of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Klamath Falls, where Slader said Hazen had served as assistant pastor. Hazen died in 1983 and Leipzig is also dead.

Slader identified the three victims as B.C., M.M., and T.M. None of them live in Klamath Falls any more.

B.C. was a teen-age alter boy at St. Pius X Church and was abused in his own home when Hazen came to give him a bedtime blessing, Slader said. T.M. and M.M. are brothers who were abused repeatedly in the priest's residence, the lawyer said.

"We were confused," T.M. said in a written statement. "How did you tell someone that a priest is having sex with you? We ran away from home, we turned to drugs, we got in trouble.

"When the memories would come, I would stuff them in a box in my mind and try to lock the box. I hated myself. I never could make sense out of what happened. I guess I have been running from it all my life."

According to Slader, Hazen was ordained at St. Peter's Church in The Dalles, then served in churches in The Dalles, LaGrande, Pendleton and the St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker between 1956 and 1966. Between 1967 and 1978 he served as a hospital chaplain in Ontario, then pastor at churches in Vale, Burns and Wasco.

"Using the power, authority and trust of his position as plaintiffs' priest, Fr. Hazen enticed, induced, directed, and/or coerced each boy to engage in various sexual acts with him," the lawsuit said.

The accusations were added to the $1 million lawsuit filed last December by a man identified only as T.R., now living in western Washington. He claims Hazen molested him when he served as the priest's altar boy while traveling around Eastern Oregon, sometimes overnight, to serve mass in churches that had no regular priest.

Faucher said the Diocese of Baker published a policy in 1995 on dealing with allegations of sexual abuse by priests, which calls for the church to investigate in conjunction with police.

"There cannot be any form of cover up at any level," Faucher said.


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