The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic diocese of Fairbanks is a major chapter in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States and Ireland.
A lawsuit filed by Alaskan natives alleges that up to 15 Jesuit priests abused local aboriginal children for a period of several decades. Victims describe the diocesan parishes as a pedophile paradise because they allegedly served as a deliberate dumping ground for abusive priests from all over the United States.
Nature of the abuse
Abuse included fondling, rape and assault of girls and boys in churches, rectories and homes of priests. This generally occurred in isolated geographic areas where the children could not communicate with the outside world. There were very few hospitals and health facilities in the area, something which further complicated the situation. The fact that the victms were very poor and very young also made the problem very difficult.
Case of Father James Poole
Father James Poole is alleged to have molested countless children but has never been convicted of a crime because the Jesuits have settled out of court for the silence of the victims. The exact sum of the settlements is unknown because the victims have had to sign confidentiality agreements but it is known that the total since 2005 is over $5 million. One such payment was for $500,000 for raping a dying woman to whom he had been summoned perform last rites.
In February 2008, the diocese of Fairbanks announced plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming inability to pay the 140 plaintiffs who filed claims against the diocese for alleged sexual abuse by priests or church workers dating from the 1950s to the early 1980s. The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, was named as a co-defendant in the case, and settled for $50 million. The Diocese, which reports an operating budget of approximately $6 million, claims one of the diocese’s insurance carriers failed to "participate meaningfully".
- Lawsuit: Alaska Villages 'Dumping Ground' for Abusive Priests
- http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/news/1/7772-alaskan-natives-file-suit-against-jesuits-for-rape-.html Alaskan Natives file suit against Jesuits for rape
- "Fairbanks Catholic Diocese filing for bankruptcy". KTUU.com. WorldNow. 2008-02-15. http://www.ktuu.com/global/story.asp?s=7869569. Retrieved 2008-03-03. "More than 150 claims were filed against the church for alleged crimes at the hands of clergy or church workers between the 1950s and 1980s."
- United Press International (2008-02-15). "Diocese of Fairbanks plans bankruptcy". ArcaMax. ArcaMax Publishing, Inc.. http://www.arcamax.com/newsheadlines/s-303367-132791. Retrieved 2008-03-03. "Robert Hannon, who serves as a special assistant to Bishop Donald Kettler and is the diocesan chancellor, told the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News that officials believe bankruptcy is the fairest way to compensate victims."
- Baldino, Megan (2008-02-15). "Diocese of Fairbanks to file for bankruptcy". CNA. Catholic News Agency. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=11791. Retrieved 2008-03-03. "The negotiations allegedly failed because one of the diocese’s insurance carriers did not “participate meaningfully.” ... Robert Hannon, chancellor and special assistant to Bishop Donald Kettler, said bankruptcy would provide a way for church assets to be distributed fairly among abuse victims."
- "Diocese hopes to continue operations despite Chapter 11 petition". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Archived from the original on 2009-07-20. http://www.webcitation.org/5iPe1d5zq.