Lawyer: Alaska priest abuse deal reached

source: The Raw Story, November 18, 2007

Lawyer: Religious Order Reaches $50 Million Sex-Abuse Settlement With Alaska Natives

AP News

Nov 18, 2007 19:57 EST

Roman Catholic religious order has agreed to pay $50 million to more
than 100 Alaska Natives who allege sexual abuse by Jesuit priests, a
lawyer for the accusers said Sunday.



The settlement with the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus is
the largest one yet against a Catholic religious order, said Anchorage
lawyer Ken Roosa, who called it "a great day" for the 110 victims.

are people who were altar boys and altar servers and altar girls,"
Roosa said. "These are people who tried to tell their story and in many
instances were beaten or told to shut up and told, 'How can you say
such things about a man of God?'"

The settlement does not require the order to admit fault, Roosa said. None of the priests were ever criminally charged.

settlement announcement is premature because some issues need to be
finalized, said the Very Rev. John Whitney, provincial superior of the
Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, which covers Oregon, Washington,
Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

"When those issues are resolved
we will be available for a more complete discussion of the matter,"
Whitney said in a prepared statement. He described the settlement
announcement as "premature and detrimental."

Roosa said
issues involving the plaintiffs had been resolved. The only issues that
remained were with the religious order's insurer, he said.

sexual abuse allegations involved 13 or 14 clerics and spanned nearly
30 years, from 1961 to 1987, Roosa said. The children's ages ranged
from 5 years to teenage.

"Despite all this, no Catholic
religious leader has yet to admit that problem priests were dumped in
Alaska. For our clients, this settlement represents a long overdue
acknowledgment of the truth of their stories of abuse, stories that
until today were largely denied and belittled by apologists for the
abusers," Roosa said.

The Catholic Church first was notified of the Alaska cases of abuse in 2002, Roosa said.

cases do not include those against the Diocese of Fairbanks, which
owned and managed the churches in the villages in rural Alaska where
the Jesuit priests were assigned. Those 135 lawsuits have been reduced
to 10. Those cases are expected to be mediated in December.

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