November 20, 2007

Jesuits prayed and preyed

Jesuits will pay abuse settlement, lawyer says

PRIESTS:  Alaska Native abuse settlement said to be $50 million.A settlement of $50 million will be paid to 110 Alaska Natives who say they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests who preyed on children in rural Alaska, lawyers representing the plaintiffs said Sunday.

Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa said the settlement is the largest against a single religious order since stories of clerical abuse began to emerge around the country several years ago.
$50 million for Alaskan abuse plaintiffsA dozen priests and three missionaries were accused of sexually abusing Eskimo children in 15 villages and Nome from 1961 to 1987. The flood of allegations led to accusations that the Eskimo communities were a dumping ground for abusive priests and lay workers affiliated with the Jesuit order, which supplied bishops, priests and lay missionaries to the Fairbanks diocese.

Jesuit officials have denied transferring molesting priests to Alaska, saying that it was a prestigious assignment for the most courageous and faithful. In Jesuit fundraising literature, Eskimo villages were called "the world's most difficult mission field."

Many plaintiffs said their once devoutly Catholic villages--cut off from the world and without law enforcement--offered a perfect setting for a molesting priest. In 2005, The Times published a story about Joseph Lundowski, a Jesuit deacon who allegedly sexually abused nearly every boy in two small villages on St. Michael Island between 1968 and 1975.

Lundowski's accusers--now in their 40s and 50s--said the abuse led to alcoholism, violence, emotional problems and suicide attempts. They kept their secret--not even talking about it among themselves--until the Catholic Church sex scandal erupted in 2002.

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