April 05, 2005

Church acknowledges Nome priest abuse, settles civil suit

Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Daily News

Published: April 5th, 2005
Last Modified: April 5th, 2005 at 03:22 AM

The Catholic Church on Monday admitted that a former Nome priest committed sexual misconduct and said that it has settled a civil lawsuit that resulted from the abuse.

The Jesuits of the Oregon Province apologized for the actions of retired priest James Poole and called what he did inexcusable. The Jesuits and the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese together paid around $1 million to settle the case, according to the victim's attorneys, the diocese and a spokesman for the Jesuits.

The case concerns a woman, now 37, who accused Poole of kissing and fondling her dozens of times starting in 1978 when she was 10. The abuse included heavy petting and having her lie on top of him, the lawsuit said. It continued until she turned 19 and wrote him a letter saying she never wanted to be alone with him again, said the complainant, Elsie Boudreau. The lawsuit that she filed last year concentrates on the time she was 16 and younger.

"We admit that the sexual misconduct alleged to have occurred by James Poole did occur, and we are deeply sorry for it," said the Rev. John Whitney, head of the Jesuits' Oregon Province, who was reading from a prepared statement. The province includes Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Poole, now in his 80s, did not return calls to the Jesuit home in Spokane where he lives. In the past, he called Boudreau's claims "highly inflammatory and highly exaggerated."

Posted by kshaw at April 5, 2005 08:01 AM