Four more village plaintiffs join suit against 2 priests

Each of the 10 who has brought suit seeks more than $100,000 in damages

Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2005

ANCHORAGE - Three men and a woman have joined a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by two now-deceased priests in Western Alaska villages, some accusations dating back almost 50 years.

One of the men accuses the Rev. Segundo Llorente of abuse and the others name the Rev. Francis Nawn as the abuser. The allegations are detailed in an amended complaint filed in Bethel Superior Court Monday by Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa, who has handled other lawsuits alleging past abuse by Alaska-based priests.

The new plaintiffs provide a second allegation against Llorente and add a female victim of Nawn, Roosa said Tuesday.

"The fact Father Nawn was an either-gender molester made him far more dangerous," he said. "He wasn't just picking on little boys or little girls, but whoever he could get his hands on. He's the first bi-gender priest molester that we've seen in Alaska."

The new plaintiffs - identified as John Doe 7-9 and Jackie Doe 1 - bring to 10 the number of plaintiffs in the lawsuit. All seek more than $100,000 in damages from the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province; and the Society of Jesus, Alaska.

The complaint says the defendants had a duty to "use reasonable care" in the supervision of the plaintiffs.

"Defendants Diocese of Fairbanks and Jesuit Defendants breached this duty of care by exposing the minor Plaintiffs to unsupervised contact with (Llorente and Nawn), enabling them to sexually abuse the minor Plaintiffs," it says.

The Fairbanks diocese is investigating the latest claims as it has all other abuse cases, said Ronnie Rosenberg, director of human resources for the diocese.

"We are saddened to hear about more individuals who have been impacted," she said. "We take these complaints very seriously. We are glad people are coming forward and we will investigate their complaints thoroughly."

But because the allegations against Llorente and Nawn go back 30- to 50 years, learning the truth could prove challenging, Rosenberg said.

"Many of the people that we could talk with are deceased," she said. "I don't find any evidence of sexual abuse of children in the records that we have. What may have been, what could have been, I couldn't begin to tell you."

The case originally was filed last December by a man who said he was molested as a young boy by Llorente in the mid-1950s when the priest served at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Sheldon Point, now known as Nunam Iqua.

The original plaintiff, identified as John Doe 1, said he later was molested as a teenager by Nawn when the priest came to the village for several weeks while assigned to Holy Cross in the 1960s.

Llorente, a one-term member of the state House of Representatives in the early 1960s, also served in various other communities, including Bethel, Alakanuk and Emmonak. Nawn served at Holy Cross, Scammon Bay and Emmonak, among other villages.

All but one of the other plaintiffs say they were sexually abused by Nawn in Sheldon Point or Scammon Bay. Several of the John Does say the abuse began when Nawn pretended to wrestle with them. Afterward, according to the complaint, Nawn told each boy it would be a sin to tell anyone what they had done together, then gave him treats like soda or candy.

Jackie Doe 1, the only female plaintiff, said Nawn molested her in Sheldon Point. He also took photos of her and other girls nude, according to the complaint.

The Catholic church has a history of protecting abusive priests more than their victims, said John Manly, a Costa Mesa, Calif., attorney specializing in church-abuse cases. Manly was a consultant to Roosa and plans to file a motion to be allowed to work on the Alaska case.

"For the better part of 50 years if not longer, we know from our other cases, dioceses knew priests were molesting children so they simply moved them to other parishes and cities - and that's exactly what happened here," Manly said. "There are no secrets in a rectory. There is a code of silence in the priesthood."

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