Church in Alaska settles sex-abuse lawsuits

Associated Press/May 18, 2004

Anchorage -- Six men have settled part of a Roman Catholic Church abuse lawsuit that accused a now-dead priest of having molested them when they were altar boys in western Alaska villages as long ago as 1954.

The six men, who have not been identified, sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northern Alaska in Fairbanks and the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus in June in Bethel Superior Court.

The lawsuit accused the diocese and the Society of Jesus of allowing the Rev. Jules Convert to molest the children while he was working in the villages of St. Marys, Unalakleet, Holy Cross and Kaltag from 1954 to 1979.

Convert died in France in 1995 at the age of 85.

"I feel like that for these men, the acknowledgment by the Society of Jesus and particularly Father John Whitney (the Oregon provincial) that they were molested, that they are not making this up, that they were harmed ... has been incredibly healing and beneficial for them," said Kenneth Roosa, one of the lawyers representing the men.

The dollar amount of the settlement between the six men and the Society of Jesus was not disclosed.

But, lawyers for the men said, the Jesuits agreed to a monetary settlement, including paying college tuition for some of the victims' children. In addition, the settlement provides for lifetime counseling and a one-time opportunity for the victims, many of whom are Alaska Natives, to obtain vocational training in the occupation of their choice.

The portion of the lawsuit against the Fairbanks Diocese is still pending.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.