Portland Diocese Named in New Abuse Suit

Associated Press
June 13, 2002

A retired construction worker has filed a $3.75 million lawsuit against St. Mary's School in Medford and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland claiming he was abused by a priest more than 40 years ago.

The man, who is not identified in the suit, claims the late Rev. William McLeod sexually abused him a dozen times between 1954 and 1957 while he was a student at St. Mary's and an altar boy at Sacred Heart Church in Medford and St. Joseph's in Jacksonville.

McLeod was an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Church for 15 years and taught religion for St. Mary's until his death in Medford in 1969.

The lawsuit also alleges the senior pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Medford, the late Rev. Nicholas Deis, walked in during one episode of abuse but failed to take action. Deis, who served as a priest at Sacred Heart in Medford from 1955 to 1957, died Dec. 15, 1984.

"Father Deis did not attempt to stop, nor did he report, the behavior of Father McLeod, but Father Deis simply allowed the activity to continue," the lawsuit states.

Bud Bunce, Archdiocese of Portland spokesman, said his office learned of the lawsuit Wednesday and plans to investigate the matter and "proceed in an appropriate manner."

St. Mary's is part of the network of parochial schools within the archdiocese.

"The archdiocese is committed to preventing child abuse and recognizing the signs of child abuse in the children it serves," Bunce said.

It is the second lawsuit to name McLeod. In March, the archdiocese settled a $4 million lawsuit with a Portland taxi driver who claimed McLeod abused him 50 times when he was an altar boy at All Saints Parish in Portland between 1938 and 1941.

Last December, a Rogue Valley man claimed in an interview with the Mail Tribune newspaper in Medford that he had been abused by McLeod but did not plan to file a lawsuit.

"We have a pretty clear pattern," said Kelly Clark, a Portland attorney handling the latest lawsuit.

"Even though no one person can corroborate another person's accounts of abuse, we have people saying, 'Yeah, he did it to me, too,"' Clark said.


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