December 30, 2004 in City

Late Alaska priests accused in new suit

Associated Press
 

FAIRBANKS – A man filed a lawsuit in Bethel this week that claims he was sexually abused by two priests while serving in Western Alaska villages during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Revs. Segundo Llorente and Francis Nawn, both deceased, are named as the assailants of the plaintiff, identified as Jack Doe 1.

According to the lawsuit, the man is a member of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Sheldon’s Point, now known as Nunam Iqua. He claims he and others were sexually abused as children.

Named as defendants are the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska; the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province; and the Society of Jesus, Alaska.

Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa is representing the plaintiff. He also is representing dozens of others in lawsuits filed on behalf of alleged victims of sexual abuse by two other Jesuit priests, the late Rev. Jules Convert and the Rev. Jim Poole, 81, founder of Catholic radio station KNOM in Nome.

A fifth man, Joseph C. Lundowski, has had almost three dozen complaints filed against him. His accusers said he is a former Trappist monk who worked for the diocese, although officials have said he was not connected to the Fairbanks diocese. It is not known if Lundowski is still alive.

According to the complaint filed in Bethel Superior Court Tuesday, Jack Doe 1 was sexually abused by the priests during two different time periods.

Llorente was pastor at St. Peter’s in Sheldon’s Point in 1956-57, when the plaintiff was 6 or 7 years of age, according to the complaint. On at least four separate occasions Llorente invited the boy to his living quarters after catechism, then molested him as well as other boys present, according to the complaint. Afterward, Llorente gave the victim hard candy, a special treat for the boy, the complaint says.

When the plaintiff was 13 or 14 years old, Nawn traveled to Sheldon’s Point for several weeks in the summer of 1963 or 1964 to serve as village priest. Nawn, who was assigned to Holy Cross, invited Jack Doe 1 to spend the night with him at the rectory on more than five occasions and “sexually abused, harassed, humiliated and assaulted” the plaintiff, according to the complaint. The abuse escalated during the encounters, the complaint says.

During the 40 years Llorente served in Alaska, he gained prominence through his writings and as a one-term member of the state House of Representatives. Elected in 1960, he served from 1961-62. His best-known book is “Memoirs of a Yukon Priest.”

Llorente also served in Akulurak, Bethel, Alakanuk, Kwiguk, Emmonak and New Knockhock. Nawn served at Holy Cross, Scammon Bay and Emmonak.

The plaintiff has suffered severe emotional damage and a loss of faith in the Catholic Church, according to the complaint, which seeks $100,000 in damages on each claim.

According to the complaint, the diocesan and Jesuit defendants were aware of the potential liability of clergy and discarded, burned and shredded documentary evidence “relating to the misconduct of their priests and religious officials prior to January of 2003 and thereafter.”

Bishop Donald Kettler, head of the Fairbanks diocese, wasn’t surprised by the latest lawsuit.

“I deeply regret this newest allegation and as a diocese we will certainly work to find out the truth of the matter and try to cooperate with everyone involved.”

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