Revelations: Faith betrayed (Part 2 of 6) 31, 2005
By Megan Baldino

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Stebbins, Alaska -- For decades, they buried their secrets, hoping no one would ever find out. Most of the men who say Joseph Lundowski molested them have never told anyone -- until now.

Although most still want to remain anonymous, the men find courage in numbers and are finally coming forward, not only from St. Michael, but also from the nearby villages of Hooper Bay and Stebbins.

"I didn't know he was that kind of a person."

James Doe 4 says he was only 7 years old when the abuse began inside St. Bernard's Church in Stebbins. He says it continued for years, and even today he can barely talk about it.

"At one time, he had three of us laying down with our pants down, taking turns on us," he says.

He says the sexual abuse -- his first sexual experience ever -- has had a devastating effect on his life. "I thought it would be OK to have sex with another, the same sex. It really confused me."

More than 30 years later, nearly a dozen men have gathered in the village community center in St. Michael and, for the first time ever, they've begun to realize they are not alone. As in St. Michaels, the men of Stebbins say there was a "monkey room" here, as well.

Some victims admit they didn't understand what was happening, so they kept quiet. Others said they were too terrified to tell, and many were told not to.

"He told me if I told any adult nobody would believe me, because he's a man of God and I'm not. And we're Alaskan Native children and any white person wouldn't believe me if I said anything at that time," says Peter Kobuk, now 45.

Kobuk says that warning proved right. In 1985, he says, he tried telling then-Bishop Michael Kiniecki and other priests like Father Gerald Ornowski and former priest Father Ward Walker (right), who also served in the villages.

Kiniecki is dead, and Ornowski, now the chaplain at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, says no one ever told him anything. But Walker says Kobuk did tell him about the abuse, and he reported it -- that was more than four years ago.

"Every time I bring up Joseph Lundowski's name to the priests, they didn't want to hear Joseph Lundowski's name," Kobuk says. "They keep changing subjects and I keep going back to Joseph Lundowski and they keep changing subjects."

It is something that many people say the church will have difficulty doing now, as more victims come forward to join the lawsuit. Their accusations have raised questions not just about priests but also about volunteers, questions making it harder for the church to close the door on its past.

The current Bishop of Fairbanks says Lundowski was never a deacon and there are no records that indicate he ever abused any children. The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, says Lundowski was never a Jesuit.

Related Articles:

Revelations: Faith betrayed (Part 1)
In the largest clergy sex abuse case in the state, 34 men in western Alaska villages claim they were molested by a man they knew as Deacon Lundowski. For several James Does in the pending lawsuit, the old Catholic Church in St. Michael is a constant painful reminder of what they say happened there.

Revelations: Faith betrayed (Part 3)
The Diocese of Fairbanks is responding to allegations that Joseph Lundowski, a deacon or lay volunteer, molested dozens of boys in western Alaska in the 1960s and '70s. Thirty-three men are plaintiffs in the case, the largest ever filed in Alaska claiming sexual abuse by church workers.

Revelations: Faith betrayed (Part 4)
The legal team behind the lawsuits against the Fairbanks Diocese says church leaders are covering up the truth about sexual abuse that went on decades ago in rural Alaska. Church officials deny that misbehaving clergy were 'dumped' in Native villages.

Revelations: Faith betrayed (Part 5)
Thirty-four men have accused Joseph Lundowski of sexually assaulting them when he worked for the Catholic Church in western Alaska in the 1960s and '70s. Despite the lawsuit, Catholic officials say they don't really know who he was or if he's still alive. KTUU-TV traveled to the Midwest to find out.

Revelations: Faith betrayed (Part 6)
Sexual abuse has lasting effects on victims and their communities. Such is the case in several western Alaska villages where dozens of men say a church worker molested them decades ago. In the last of our series, experts talk about the effects of sexual abuse and how victims can begin to heal.

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