October 21, 2005

New priest abuse suit fuels critics' charges

Anchorage Daily News

The Associated Press

Published: October 21, 2005
Last Modified: October 21, 2005 at 01:57 AM

The fourth lawsuit in less than two weeks accusing an Alaska-based Catholic priest of sexual abuse was filed Thursday, fueling a conviction among critics that Alaska was a dumping ground for problem clergy.

The complaint alleges the Rev. James Laudwein molested a 14-year-old Western Alaska girl in 1980 when she visited the nearby Yup'ik Eskimo village of St. Marys. According to court documents, Laudwein agreed to hear the girl's confession, then took her to a dark room and said "her sins would be forgiven" if she touched his genitals.

Laudwein is the latest of a dozen priests who served in Alaska and have been accused publicly of abusing a child or children in the past. Most of the abuse occurred in remote villages and most of the alleged victims were Alaska Natives -- a common pattern over the decades, critics contend.

"I absolutely believe that church officials intentionally sent abusive priests to minor communities, transient communities, where kids may be less apt to tell and have less faith in the justice system," said David Clohessy, national director of Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Posted by kshaw at October 21, 2005 08:32 AM