Men suing priest for back child support

Posted: Thursday, February 08, 2007

ANCHORAGE - A Jesuit priest who impregnated two woman decades ago while working in rural Alaska is being sued by his two grown sons for child support and damages.

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The suit against the Rev. James Jacobson was filed by the two unidentified men and the mother of one of them. One son is seeking nearly $325,000 in child support and the other is seeking more than $270,000.

Jacobson, 83, worked in Alaska from about 1961 to 1976 in Yup'ik villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Jacobson's lawyer, Joan Unger of Anchorage, has argued her client cannot keep money because he is a priest and has always turned his money over to his religious order, Society of Jesus Oregon Province, which covers Alaska. The Jesuits say in court papers they don't have to pay child support for priests.

Chris Cooke, attorney for the plaintiffs, said being a priest doesn't erase the responsibility to care for one's children.

Since his children were born, Jacobson received more than $1.5 million in salary and pension, but it all went to the Jesuits, and neither he nor the religious order gave his children any money, the legal filings said.

Jacobson's paternity was established through DNA testing, and a Bethel judge in May declared him to be the biological father of both John Does.

Their mothers were sexually assaulted by Jacobson and became pregnant, according to a lawsuit filed in Bethel Superior Court in October 2005. Both were married at the time, the suit said.

Jacobson also is accused in the suit of raping a 16-year-old girl in another Western Alaska village.

Messages left for Jacobson and his attorney on Tuesday were not returned, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Efforts to reach the Jesuits and their attorneys also were unsuccessful.

After leaving Alaska, Jacobson worked as a paid chaplain in a prison in Oregon from 1979 to 2005. He lives in a Jesuit home in Spokane, Wash.

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