Northwest Digest

Posted: Friday, February 10, 2006

State settles lawsuit in trooper shooting

KENAI - A lawsuit filed against the state and an Alaska State Trooper who shot a Nikiski man to death has ended in a $310,000 settlement.

The civil lawsuit alleged that the January 2003 shooting of 30-year-old Casey Porter by trooper Arthur Jesse Osborn was either negligent or a use of intentional, excessive force. It named Osborn, as well as the state, and sought more than $1 million in damages on behalf of Porter's estate.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Porter's estate, represented by Danielle Gordon, the mother of one of Porter's children. The terms of the settlement were not released.

The settlement was reached Feb. 2, said Mark Morones, a spokesman for the state Department of Law.

Trooper arrested on violence charges

WRANGELL - An Alaska State Trooper has been arrested on domestic violence charges.

Wrangell police officers arrested Clinton Songer, 29, on Sunday after he allegedly forced his way into a woman's apartment.

Dominique O'Connor told police Songer knocked on her door Saturday evening, entered the apartment and grabbed her by the neck.

Troopers' spokesman Greg Wilkinson said the alleged incident occurred while Songer was on preapproved leave. Wilkinson said the Wrangell-based trooper will remain on leave until March.

Two priests accused in sex abuse lawsuits

FAIRBANKS - Two more Jesuit priests who served in the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese are named in lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of a child.

A man identified as Jake Doe 1 said in lawsuits filed Wednesday that he was repeatedly abused by the Revs. Andrew Eordogh and the late Bernard McMeel when he was a child living in Holy Cross.

Also named in the lawsuits filed in Bethel Superior Court are the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska, and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, and Alaska, who oversaw the priests' placement and supervision at the time.

The plaintiff, who was raised in Anchorage, Holy Cross and Bethel, said he was abused on multiple occasions between 1967 and 1970, beginning when he was 4 years old. He said McMeel abused him first, then "handed him off" to Eordogh after leaving Holy Cross to become superior regular for all Alaska Jesuits.

Ronnie Rosenberg, human resources director for the Fairbanks diocese, said she learned about the lawsuits only after receiving media inquiries.

"We have not yet received the complaints, which makes it difficult to comment on the facts alleged," Rosenberg said Thursday.

The Rev. John Whitney, Provincial of Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

According to the complaint, Eordogh was a member of the Society of Jesus, Hungarian Province, assigned to Alaska from 1967 through 1971. His last U.S. residence was in Chicago and he now reportedly lives in a retirement home for priests in Pilisvorosvar, Hungary.

Washington joins suit over roadless rule

SEATTLE - Washington is joining Oregon, California and New Mexico in a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration move to open roadless national forest lands to mining, logging, road-building and other development, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Thursday.

Gregoire, the state's former attorney general, said she had tried to avoid litigation, asking the U.S. Agriculture Department for an expedited process that would enable the state to adopt the protections of former President Clinton's roadless rule, which barred development on 58 million acres of national forest across the country, and 2 million acres in Washington state.

The Bush administration announced plans last spring to give states a voice in the decision, with an 18-month span for land-use recommendations and the feds making the final call.

"Joining this lawsuit is our last effort to defend Washington's quality of life and our economy," she told reporters at a news conference at outdoor-gear retailer Recreational Equipment Inc.'s downtown headquarters.

"We'll do whatever is necessary to prevent the federal government from destroying this national legacy," Gregoire said.

Federal officials believe the quickest way to protect roadless areas is through the new roadless rules, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Dan Jiron said last fall.

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