Abuse claim leads to settlement in Fairbanks

Posted: Friday, December 31, 2004

FAIRBANKS - The Fairbanks Catholic Diocese has reached a settlement with an Anchorage woman who accused a retired Nome priest of sexually abusing her.

Patricia Hess was one of three women alleging abuse by the Rev. James Poole, who founded KNOM radio. She signed off on the undisclosed settlement with the diocese and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, on Dec. 13.

Hess said she was a teenager living in Nome in the early 1970s when she was sexually molested by Poole. She went public with the allegations last spring after another woman, listed under the pseudonym Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit against Poole. Jane Doe stated she had been sexually molested by the priest more than 100 times from 1978 to 1984, starting when she was 10 years old.

Poole, now 81, is retired and living in a Jesuit retirement community in Spokane, Wash.

Fairbanks attorney Bill Satterberg, who represented Hess, said his client has decided to keep the settlement confidential.

Attorney Bob Groseclose, representing the diocese, said the settlement expressly notes there is no admission of liability by the church nor admission of guilt by Poole.

"In fact it was denied, strenuously, by the priest, who is not my client but was represented separately," Groseclose said.

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