Judge asked to toss out abuse lawsuit against diocese

Posted: Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Anchorage-Attorneys are asking a Bethel judge to dismiss a lawsuit against the Fairbanks Diocese and the Society of Jesus by six former altar boys who say they were sexually abused by a Jesuit priest. The Catholic Church is protected by the statute of limitations against a lawsuit seeking justice for events going back to the 1970's and, for one of the alatar boys, to the 1950's, say attorneys Robert Groseclose and James Gorski.

The church's stance is that the standard two year limit should apply, especially since the accused priest, the Rev. Jules Convert, died in France in 1995, making it difficult for the dioceses and the Jesuit order to defend themselves.

But attorney Ken Roosa, representing the six former altar boys from St. Marys and Kaltag, said the Legislature eliminated the statute of limitations on serious sexual assaults, most recently by boradening the law this year.

In Bethel on Monday, Superior Court Judge Dale Curda was asked to rule whether the Legislature's decision to removethe statute of limitations on criminal cases applied to civilian cases and, if it does, whether the law could be retroactively applied. Curda didn't say when he would decide.

The church hasn't fromally answered the complaint, attemting instead to get it thrown out of court with the statute of limitations argument.

The Diocese of Fairbanks reached a $30,000 setlement last week with one of the plaintiffs. Roosa said that plaintiff's lawsuit against the Jesuits continues.

The Society of Jesus has denied the charges, saying no allegations of misbehavior by the preist were ever reported to his religious superiors.

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