Local news

Suit claims abuse by military priests

TACOMA – A 50-year-old man who claims two priests sexually abused him while he was an altar boy at Fort Lewis has sued the two priests, the Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court on Nov. 19, identifies the plaintiff, a Vancouver, Wash., resident, only by his initials, J.I.

One of the priests, the Rev. Reinard Beaver, was removed from public ministry in 1988 after complaints about him surfaced, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported for a story in Wednesday editions. Other men have sued him, alleging sexual abuse, the paper said.

Two years ago, Bishop William Skylstad of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane identified Beaver, who once worked in that city, as one of six priests who had sexually abused minors.

Reached at his home in Steilacoom this week, Beaver told the newspaper, “I really can’t make any comment on this,” adding he did not know who J.I. was.

Beaver became a military chaplain in 1960 and worked under the direction and control of the military until at least 1983, when he retired as a lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army.

The other priest was a military chaplain from 1967 to 1972 – the years when J.I. alleged the abuse occurred. The News Tribune did not identify him, saying he is not known to have been sanctioned, punished or identified by the Catholic Church as someone who abused children.

The Associated Press could not reach the second priest on Wednesday. Michael Pfau, J.I.’s attorney, said he wasn’t sure exactly where the second priest lives or whether he still serves as a priest. Greg Magnoni, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Seattle, also had no information about the second priest.

Magnoni said there was no legal basis for the archbishop to be named in the lawsuit. “They’re not our priests,” he said. “They are not under our supervision.”

Pfau contends the Seattle archdiocese helped supervise the military priests, and that both archdioceses failed to investigate the priests’ backgrounds and to take action after people complained about alleged abuse.

Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, vicar general of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, U.S.A., told the Associated Press on Wednesday morning he could not comment on the case because his office had not yet seen the lawsuit. Efforts to reach the military archdiocese later in the day were not successful.

According to a statement on its Web site, the Archdiocese of the Military Services, U.S.A. includes more than 1,000 priests who serve about 1.4 million Catholics, including men and women in the armed services, their families, reservists, Coast Guard members, government service employees overseas and people in Veterans Administration hospitals.



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