Revelations: Faith betrayed (Part 4 of 6) 31, 2005
By Megan Baldino

Related Articles

Fairbanks, Alaska -- "There is no one in this room that is anti-Catholic. The last thing anybody at this table wanted is to be here."

John Manly is a partner with the law firm Manley and McGuire in Orange County, Calif. The firm helped win the largest clergy sex-abuse settlement in the nation -- $100 million -- against the Orange County Diocese.

Manley represented 30 of 90 clients. "Ten years ago, if you told me I was going to be doing this work, I would've laughed," he says.

Manley says he's a real estate lawyer, who got a call one day that changed his life. A young man needed a lawyer to sue the Orange County Diocese. That man, now a lawyer at Manley's firm, was abused by a popular priest.

Manley says the diocese would not accept an initial offer to settle for $100,000.

"Four-and-a-half years later, they paid my client $5.2 million," he says.

Ever since, Manley has been taking on the Catholic Church, including in Alaska.

"They knew that they had employees and priests that were in parishes and were serially raping children, little boys and little girls," Manley says. "And they did absolutely nothing about it, except extremely effectively cover it up. And that's the sad truth."

Now Manley and a consultant with the firm, Patrick Wall, also a former monk, find themselves in Alaska, partnering with attorney Ken Roosa.

"It is the most horrific set of facts you could possibly imagine," he says.

Together, the legal team is representing 64 people. So far, they've filed 57 lawsuits against the Fairbanks diocese and the Jesuits in Alaska.

"I think the Jesuit order dumped perpetrators in Alaska," Manley says. "I think there is a tremendous amount of empirical evidence to indicate that. And they put them in these villages because you had a completely vulnerable population that was literally defenseless."

Bishop Donald Kettler of Fairbanks denies those accusations. "There's about 400 priests that have served as missionaries," he says. "We have two situations out of the 400. Doesn't seem to me that people were harboring people like that."

But Roosa -- who first called Manley after hearing about the firm's expertise in clergy sex-abuse cases -- says he now has more than 60 clients, people in rural Alaska, accusing five clergy of sexually abusing them as children.

Roosa says that every time he visits a place like Stebbins, there are more revelations. "Every week, it's something new, something shocking, something very troubling," he says.

In the largest case, 34 men claim that Joseph Lundowski -- described by the church as a lay volunteer -- abused them as children. Thirty-three have filed suit.

"I think Alaska will have the highest perpetrator rate in the country," says Wall.

In fact, if you compare the Orange County Diocese and the Diocese of Fairbanks, the numbers are telling. The Orange County Diocese serves about 1.2 million parishioners, and recently settled 90 lawsuits. The Fairbanks Diocese serves only about 17,000 parishioners, and so far there are 58 lawsuits naming the diocese as a defendant.

That means that, if victims are telling the truth, a Catholic in the Fairbanks Diocese -- especially in rural Alaska -- was 45 times more likely to be the target of abuse by clergy.

"It's classic," says Wall. "It's just like religious orders do. You send people that you have problems with to the missions. You dump them."

Again, despite the lawyers' claims, current church leaders vehemently deny that priests were dumped in Alaska and that leaders back then knowingly moved alleged perpetrators around.

"I just don't see, given the numbers, that that's the basis for that," says Bishop Kettler.

In the case against Lundowski, the church has said Lundowski was not clergy, but a lay volunteer. Manley says the church is covering up the truth.

"I can explain that in one sentence. Two words: They're lying," says Manley.

Now Manley, Wall and Roosa (right) say they're determined to expose the church and finally bring justice to people who have put their faith in them. The attorneys in the Lundowski cases say there is no guarantee the victims will see any type of financial settlement.

Roosa says he is paying the cost of filing the lawsuits out of pocket, and will see payment only if a settlement is reached.

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 2)
They were young boys in the villages of St. Michael, Hooper Bay and Stebbins, and they thought of 'Deacon Lundowski' as a man of God. Now the boys are men -- and plaintiffs in a lawsuit that charges Lundowski with betraying that trust and molesting them.

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 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.

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