February 17, 2006

Expert testifies diocese kept sexual abuse a secret

Fairbanks News-Miner


Evidence that a priest operating in western Alaska was sexually abusing young girls was suppressed by Fairbanks Catholic Diocese officials under the secrecy rules instituted by the Catholic Church, according to testimony during a hearing in Nome Superior Court on Thursday.

A judge will continue to hear arguments today that could sway him to rule the statute of limitations has expired in a civil suit against the Diocese and the Society of Jesus. A trial is scheduled for Feb. 27.

If the case of Jane Doe 2 gets to trial, it would be the first of more than 90 civil suits filed in Alaska to make it to a jury. Nome Judge Ben Esch recently severed the Rev. James Poole from the suit. Attorneys for the diocese and Jesuits argue Esch also should throw out the claims against church leaders.

Jane Doe 2 and her attorneys argue the diocese and Jesuits knowingly allowed Poole to prey on children in Nome and other western Alaska parishes.

"A smoking gun" is how Doe attorney Ken Roosa described a 1986 letter from the late Bishop Michael Kaniecki found in documents only recently turned over the plaintiffs by the diocese.

Posted by kshaw at February 17, 2006 04:57 PM