Sadly, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon participated in the pattern of concealment by the Catholic Church that protected abusive priests all over the country and the world. Because hundreds of victims came forward, detailing abuse that stretched over more than 50 years, the archdiocese of Portland was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2004.
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One local priest, Angel Armando Perez, pleaded guilty in 2013 to first degree sex abuse and furnishing alcohol to minors related to his tenure at St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn, Oregon. A related lawsuit settled out of court.
In 2009, Oregon lawmakers increased the amount of time allowed victim of sexual abuse to damages. State law used to allow victims to sue until age 24, or within three years after they realized the sexual abuse was a source of their problems. Today, victims can sue until age 40.
Over the last fifteen years, hundreds of victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have come forward and demanded justice. Most victims were children, whose abuse dated back decades. Here in Oregon, these suits forced the Archdiocese of Portland to declare bankruptcy in 2007, after it paid out more than $50 million to 175 victims. As part of the bankruptcy agreement, the Archdiocese of Portland was forced to set aside $20 million for any future claimants who could prove they suffered abuse. That $20 million fund will expire in 2017.
The Catholic cases have reached all the way to the Vatican in Rome. A group of American attorneys have fought a battle against the Vatican in Oregon’s federal court system for nearly ten years. In 2012, U.S. District Judge Michael Mossman ordered the Vatican to produce documents regarding the abuse (the tricky part is that the documents produced are vast and in Latin).
Kafoury & McDougal have successfully handled several cases involving sex abuse by priests and other church employees.
If you or someone you know was victimized by a Catholic priest, you should contact our firm to determine your legal rights. Under Oregon law ORS 12.117, a victim abused before the age of 18 can bring a claim at any time before they turn 40, or 5 years after they discover the causal connection between the child abuse and their injuries, whichever period is longer.
To find out if the Catholic Church has documents relating to an Archdiocese of Portland priest, you can go to www.archdiocesedocuments.org and search by specific priests (as ordered by the Hon. Michael Hogan in November of 2008). To check on bishops nationally, you can go to www.bishop-accountability.org and look up documents on specific priests.
Remember, you are not alone.