More litigation ties up retired priest and Oregon diocese

A 34-year-old man from Oregon is the latest individual to introduce civil litigation against a retired Catholic priest, claiming that he molested him and a number of others as boys many years ago. The man is seeking $3 million to compensate for a long period of pain, suffering and emotional trauma. The man's lawyer claims the sexual abuse has taken a toll on the man's present-day relationships.

In the lawsuit, the man names the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon and the Roman Catholic archbishop of Portland in Oregon as defendants. Although the church stripped the man of all his priestly duties after allegations began to swirl, he was never convicted of any criminal charges.

This is the latest of 11 men who have made accusations that the priest, now 77 years old, molested them over the span of four decades.

The priest and local diocese have been gridlocked in litigation for the better part of the decade when allegations finally surfaced. The retired priest was deposed in 2005, but took the Fifth over 80 times as to not incriminate himself.

Many of the allegations center on instances where the priest would take the underage boys on unsupervised camping trips, many times to his own private cabin alongside a lake. The most recent lawsuit did not detail any specific allegations of the abuse, though.

Previous lawsuits, however, detailed the fact that the priest would get the young boys to wrestle with him wearing only their underwear. There were also times the boys were told to strip naked and sit in a sauna with him.

The Archdiocese of Portland was approved for a bankruptcy plan in 2007 and paid out $50 million to about 175 people that made similar claims against additional members of the clergy. A sum of $20 million remains for future claims.

Source: The Oregonian, "Eugene man sues Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, accuses retired priest of molestation," Bryan Denson, Sept. 19, 2011

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