Parish Loses 2nd Priest to Allegations

By Michael Wilson
April 26, 2002

Father Kenneth Jacques was clearly shaken as he paused at the end of Mass to read a letter from the Mount Angel monastery abbot concerning recent accusations of sex abuse.

"This is going to be rather difficult for me," he told the Sacred Heart congregation in nearby Gervais on April 14. One of the two priests accused was his assistant pastor.

A story about the Mount Angel parishes ran the next day in The Oregonian, describing Jacques' talk from the pulpit.

Nine days later, he himself stood accused.

On Wednesday, Andrew John Fletcher of Portland filed a lawsuit against Jacques, the Archdiocese of Portland, the archbishop, the abbey and the order of Benedictine monks that runs the abbey.

By the end of Wednesday, Jacques, 68, had been hurried up the hill to the abbey, about seven miles away. There he joins his assistant, Father Louis Charvet, 82, in the administrative-leave exile of the accused priest.

Fletcher is 40, working in computers. He was unavailable for comment Thursday. His lawyer, Daniel Gatti of Salem, said the newspaper account mentioning Jacques made Fletcher so mad he physically shook, and provoked him to sue.

According to the complaint, filed in Marion County Circuit Court, Fletcher, then 16, accompanied Jacques on a Mount Angel Preparatory School trip to California in 1978, and the priest molested him for two weeks. Jacques was assigned to the school from 1975 to 1979, the archdiocese said.

Fletcher seeks $5 million in damages.

"The abbey wasn't aware of the suit until last evening at about 7 o'clock," said abbey attorney Richard Whittemore. An investigation is under way, he said.


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