April 16, 2005

Two Alaska women, alleging abuse 25 years ago, sue Russian Orthodox Church

Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Daily News

Published: April 16th, 2005
Last Modified: April 16th, 2005 at 03:47 AM

Two Western Alaska women have sued the Russian Orthodox Church, claiming they were sexually abused as children more than 25 years ago by priests.

The women, identified in a suit filed recently in Superior Court in Bethel as Janet Doe numbers 1 and 2, are now in their late 30s. One of the priests has been dead for 14 years, the other for 24 years, according to Bishop Nikolai, head of the statewide church.

The suit claims the women still suffer "severe and permanent emotional distress, resulting in physical manifestations, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation and psychological injuries" and other deprivations. It seeks $100,000 in compensatory damages, unspecified punitive damages and attorney fees.

The suit alleges that Janet Doe 1 was abused by the Rev. Wassillie Epchook several times in the village of Kalskag in 1979 and 1980 when the girl was 11 and 12. The abuse took the form of Epchook "touching her over her clothing," according to the complaint.

Janet Doe 2 was abused by the Rev. Zachary Guest in Bethel in 1974 when she was 7 and 8, according to the lawsuit. Guest "attempted to solicit sexual favors ... and touched her in a sexually abusive and harassing manner to 'demonstrate' the meaning of the questions he was asking her in the course of confession," the suit alleges.

Posted by kshaw at April 16, 2005 07:26 AM