Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Former Honolulu
priest accused in
sex abuse suit

2 men say that they suddenly
remembered the alleged abuse

By Mary Adamski

Two men have accused a Catholic priest of sexual abuse while they were altar boys in a Honolulu parish in the mid-1980s.

Named in the lawsuit filed in Circuit Court yesterday was a California man who left Hawaii in 1989 and has not served in active ministry since 1993, according to the spokesman for the Catholic Church in Honolulu.

The suit claims that both plaintiffs had repressed the memory of several incidents of molestation until it was "suddenly awakened" by the nationwide publicity about sexual misconduct by priests, which has surfaced in the past three months.

Attorney Michael Green said yesterday that the suit was erroneously filed and would be withdrawn because it is in a form not permitted by the court. Circuit Judge Karen Blondin yesterday rejected Green's request to shield the identity of the plaintiffs by naming them as John Does 1 and 2. Green said he expects to refile the suit Friday naming his clients.

Both plaintiffs said the sexual abuse occurred in the parish rectory, the priest's residence.

One man said the molestation occurred in 1985 and 1986. He said he was kissed and touched in the genital area by the priest. The priest arranged for youngsters to sleep at the rectory and "during those occasions engaged in sexual contact with John Doe 1," according to the suit.

The other man was 11 when he was first touched by the priest, and "the molestation continued while John Doe 2 was in the fifth grade, sixth grade and seventh grade," it said.

The suit also names the Catholic Church as a defendant, charging it failed to warn the boys or their parents about the "unlawful and dangerous propensity" of the priest, and that the diocese failed to remove the priest from a position which allowed him access to youngsters. It accused the church of "failing adequately to screen, evaluate, employ and train priests."

Patrick Downes, spokesman for the Honolulu diocese, said the priest came to Hawaii from Portland, Ore., in the early 1980s and left in 1989 to become a military chaplain. He now lives in California but remains on the roster of the diocese, which means the diocese may still assume responsibility for his living and medical expenses. Local records show that "he has not been in active ministry anywhere since 1993," Downes said.

Downes would not say whether this was one of four priests whom Bishop Francis DiLorenzo removed from duty because of cases involving sex abuse. The four were involved in incidents before the bishop was assigned here nine years ago, and only one had remained in a ministerial position. The diocese will not discuss details of those cases, Downes said.

The law requires that a lawsuit be filed within two years after a minor reaches adulthood. But the suit claims that the statute of limitations has not run out on their claims because their memories of the attacks were repressed until recently.

Also pending here is a suit naming the diocese, the bishop and a former sacristan in a different parish who was convicted of six sexual abuse charges involving an altar boy and his brother.

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