March 13, 2005

A priest's confession

The Oregonian

Sunday, March 13, 2005
James Clarizio remembered the Rev. Thomas Laughlin as a giant, a man with a voice that filled a church, a man who once declared, "I am God," a man to obey when he ordered young Jimmy to take off his clothes and climb into the priest's bed.

When Clarizio, 39, walked into a law firm's conference room Tuesday morning, he clutched his childhood fear of that man, even though he had not seen him in a quarter century.

But sitting at a green table was someone who appeared quite different.

"He was a frail old man in an ill-fitting suit with too wide of a tie whose voice did not even sound the same," Clarizio said.

Clarizio and more than a dozen other former altar boys have accused Laughlin of abusing them. They reached financial settlements with the Portland Archdiocese, but last fall several of them sued Laughlin.

The men didn't expect to get money from the former priest. Instead, the lawsuit gave them a certain amount of control over a man who had held so much power over them. They wanted to force Laughlin to return to Oregon for the first time since he left in disgrace 21 years ago. They wanted this moment: sitting across the room from Laughlin as their lawyer made him confess to the damage he did to dozens of boys.

Posted by kshaw at March 13, 2005 06:55 AM