Navajo justices revive case alleging priest abuse

Associated Press/September 15, 2011

Window Rock, Arizona -- The Navajo Nation Supreme Court has reversed a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit alleging clergy sex abuse on the reservation.

An unnamed Navajo man sued the Rev. Charles "Chuck" Cichanowicz and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup in 2007. He claimed the priest gave him alcohol and sexually abused him as a teenager in the mid-1980s.

The Supreme Court says the district court erred in finding that the statutory conditions that would allow a late filing weren't met. It also said the lower court shouldn't have required argument and witness testimony at a status conference in the case.

The case reverts to the Shiprock District Court in New Mexico.

Two other lawsuits were filed in Navajo courts against Cichanowicz, who worked at parishes in Shiprock and St. Michaels, Ariz.

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