January 23, 2005

Woman suing for abuse comes face to face with accused priest

Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: January 23, 2005)

When the woman known as Jane Doe 1 entered the room for the deposition of the Rev. James Poole, the Jesuit priest she has accused of molesting her as a child in Nome, she hadn't seen him in more than a decade.

He looked smaller than she remembered. He spoke almost like a little kid about their interaction. But his scent, the intimate smell of someone that rekindles memories, hadn't changed.

"It was the same smell," she recalled in a recent interview, before taking a break to compose herself.

Jane Doe sued Poole, the Diocese of Fairbanks, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province and Alaska Jesuits in March last year, accusing the priest who founded Catholic radio station KNOM of molesting her as a child. Two other women subsequently filed similar molestation claims against the priest, who is 81 and lives in a Jesuit home in Spokane, Wash.

Poole has called some of the allegations against him "highly inflammatory and highly exaggerated" and has denied others.

Jane Doe, 37 and originally from the Bethel area, has accused Poole of molesting her more than 100 times, starting in 1978 in Nome during summer visits when she was 10 and lasting until she was 16. The abuse included kissing, heavy petting and having her lie on top of him, the suit says. She said he had her sit on his lap and they kissed for hours.

Jane Doe, who has remained anonymous since she filed the lawsuit, said she didn't intend to sue the church when she first reported Poole to church officials.

She initially approached the church after she heard about another lawsuit filed by men claiming sexual abuse by the Rev. Jules Convert. Still a practicing Catholic, she wanted to see how the church would respond. After she had trouble contacting Fairbanks' then-chancellor, the Rev. Richard Case, over the phone and grew increasingly anxious and emotional, she wrote Fairbanks Bishop Donald Kettler a letter dated Sept. 20 outlining her complaints.

An interview in person with the bishop in September didn't help, she said. She said he continually referred to the legal issues involved, when she wanted him to be compassionate, listen to her and tell her it was OK to feel the way she did.

Kettler said recently that he went into that interview without much information about Jane Doe or Poole.

Posted by kshaw at January 23, 2005 08:03 AM