“We were scared that if we uttered even one word, we would go to hell.”
The Roman Catholic Church, as part of ongoing lawsuits, will make payments to approximately 700 male and female sexual and psychological abuse, molestation, and rape victims who were living in Alaska Native villages and Indian reservations from Montana to Washington, Idaho and Oregon, and who were “sexually or psychologically abused as children by Jesuit missionaries in those states in the 1940s through the 1990s,” according to a statement by attorneys.
The latest agreement will financially compensate 524 victims with $166.1 million in cases including accusations against 140 Jesuit priests, brothers, and nuns from the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, in the Pacific Northwest. Only $48 million will come from the Catholic Church, the remainder will be paid by its insurance companies.
None of the Jesuit priests are being charged with any crime related to this abuse, rape, and molestation settlement.
The settlement comes through bankruptcy proceedings and is the largest by a religious order in the United States.
“These religious figures should have been responsible for protecting children, but instead raped and molested them,” plaintiffs’ attorney Blaine Tamaki noted, adding, “This settlement recognizes that the Jesuits betrayed the trust of hundreds of young children in their care, and inflicted terrible atrocities upon them.”
One victim, Katherine Mendez, according to The Oregonian, was “11 years old when she was raped at St. Mary’s Mission School in Omak, Wash., moments after she scuffled with another student and was then brought into the office of Father John J. Morse.
“The sexual abuse continued from sixth grade into eighth grade, she said.
“And even after Mendez left the school and moved in with a foster family in Selah, 200 miles away, the priest tracked her down to continue the abuse.
“Every day, every single day, it was a nightmare,” Mendez said today. “I was always looking over my shoulder.”
“The bankruptcy declaration seemed like a cheat,” she said. “I was really a victim of child rape. There was no face-to-face justice where I could see the accusations brought out in public, to say, ‘He’s the one who raped me.’”
Another victim, Theo Lawrence, who was molested by both a Jesuit priest and a nun, died two weeks ago, before the details of the settlement had been announced. Before his death, Lawrence said, “The nun or one of the Brothers would send me to the Rectory to see Father Freddy. He would give me candy or call me special — and then he would molest me. They all did at various times.”
Lawrence, explaining how priests kept their victims silent, said abused boys were told, “men of God don’t talk. We were scared that if we uttered even one word, we would go to hell.”
The abusers, often Jesuit priests, fathers, and nuns or nuns that worked with the Jesuits, abused boys and girls and were generally sent to Alaskan Native reservations and Indian reservations as punishment or to be hidden from prior misdeeds. The Order is accused of “dumping” “problem priests” on reservations over the course of about 50 years.
The Jesuits are the largest order within the Catholic Church and are considered the most-educated.
Allegations of sexual and psychological abuse, molestation, and rape of children by Catholic Church priests have been made in the United States, Ireland, Kenya, The Philippines, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Great Britain, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru.
The Jesuits refused to comment on this case.
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