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

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Anchorage, Alaska -- The village of Stebbins has always been a quiet place. Residents tend to keep to themselves. That makes it that much more surprising that several men of the village are finally talking about what they say happened to them when they were children.

In a lawsuit filed against the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks, 33 men claim that Joseph Lundowski -- who served in Stebbins, St. Michael and Hooper Bay -- sexually abused them, even raped them, as children.

Most of the men say the abuse has changed them and their communities.

"I know it had an effect on them inside them. I know it had an effect on the community, too," says one victim who did not wish to be identified. He admits he has struggled with an alcohol addiction his entire life.

Peter Kobuk, who also says Lundowski abused him, never learned to read, has been to jail, and has had trouble with drinking and drugs.

If the victims in this case are telling the truth, then almost a generation of Native men in the villages have had to live with the consequences of being victims of child sexual abuse.

"Imagine growing up when you are looking for trust in your life and security, and your whole sense of safety is violated," said Dr. Bernard Segal, a psychologist. He's director of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction studies at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

"I think there's nothing around that says it didn't happen, let's put it that way," he says. "These are very real traumatizing experiences to the victims. Their ability to talk about it is helpful."

Segal says it's possible to connect many of the problems these men have -- as well as their communities -- to the alleged abuse.

Dr. George Charles, a nationally recognized leader in Alaskan Native history and culture, says cultural disruption has always been a part of Native Alaskans' lives, beginning with Russian missionaries.

"They had really great intentions, missionizing people in the teaching of Christ and what have you," Dr. Charles says. But, he adds, the missions eventually took over. "The Catholic Church was very powerful."

Disease wiped out communities. Language and culture were lost. To this day, he says, Alaskan Natives are trying to reclaim who they are.

"Because they became Christionized, of course, they gave up something," Dr. Charles says. "Usually, the old beliefs were kind of set aside."

Even today, in western Alaska villages, there are high rates of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and a disproportionate number of Native men and women in prison. There is also a high rate of sexual abuse of minors. Here, where health services are limited, help is hard to find.

But in many quiet villages like Stebbins, finally those who say they were abused are speaking up -- and asking for the help they need.

Learn more about clergy sex abuse or find resources for victims of sexual abuse.

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 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.

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