Jesuit Group Agrees to Pay Huge Settlement to Native American and Alaskan Native Victims of Abuse

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province—a group of Jesuits who serve the Northwest—has agreed to pay a settlement of $166 million to childhood victims of sexual and physical abuse. The abuse of approximately 500 Native Americans and Alaskan Natives is reported to have taken place at mission and boarding schools operated by the Jesuits on Indian Reservations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana.

The financial payout by the Society of Jesus is part of an agreement to resolve its two-year-old bankruptcy case. It is said to be the third biggest settlement to date in the Catholic Church’s ongoing sexual abuse scandal—and, according to lawyers for the victims, it is the largest ever by a single Catholic religious order.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs announced the settlement on Friday morning. Blaine Tamaki, an attorney from Yakima whose firm represented about one-third of the non-Alaskan victims, said, “Instead of teaching these Native American children about the love of God, these pedophile priests were molesting these children.” He added, “It was a culture of abuse of Native American children. Today is the day where they are acknowledging guilt.”

The abuse of the children is said to have spanned decades—and was perpetrated by priests and workers who were supervised by the Jesuits. The Jesuit order has been accused of regarding remote villages and reservations as “dumping grounds” for their problem priests.

According to an article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, none of the priests, nuns, and lay workers who abused the children has gone to prison. In fact, many who held power in the province when the abuse occurred have retained their positions of authority.

Clarita Vargas, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, remembers being abused by the Rev. John Morse at St. Mary’s Mission and School—which she attended from the second through the eighth grade. She said Morse would sometimes lock her in a cellar and tell her she could not come out until she agreed to do what he wanted.

Vargas called the attacks on her and other native children a “generational trauma.” She told reporters that she, her siblings, and her classmates were subjected to constant sexual abuse at the school in Omak. “I was a beautiful Christian Catholic child,” she said. “Why would a person of authority try to tarnish that?”

Vargas feels that nothing can compensate her for her lost childhood. “My spirit was wounded. I can only say (the settlement) makes me feel better. And I can’t explain it,” she said.

In addition to the financial settlement, the Jesuit order reportedly has agreed to no longer refer to their victims as “alleged victims,” to write apologies to them, and to enforce new practices that would prevent abuse of children in the future.

Seattle Times
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Daily Mail

47 thoughts on “Jesuit Group Agrees to Pay Huge Settlement to Native American and Alaskan Native Victims of Abuse”

  1. Tootie & Woosty:

    I’m with you. The mating of Power and Opportunity far too often creates an ugly dynamic.

    And the offspring is a freak of nature called a “Sense of Entitlement.”

    Priest rape of children – and the totally immoral allowance of it by the Vatican – isn’t the only reason I turned my back on Catholicism. But it’s one reason.

    And somebody far brighter than I once observed, “God may or may not have created Man. But Man certainly created religion.”

  2. Catholic Bishops Call For Housing Policy That Discriminates Against LGBT Americans
    (Think Progress, 3/29/2011)

    In response to a proposed regulation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development prohibiting discrimination in its programs based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has cried out that the regulation will interfere with their religious beliefs and threatened to end their support and sponsorship of tenants for HUD programs (PDF):

    Specifically, the regulations may force faith-based and other organizations, as a condition of participating in HUD programs and in contravention of their religious beliefs, to facilitate shared housing arrangements between persons who are not joined in the legal union of one man and one woman. By this, we do not mean that any person should be denied housing. Making decisions about shared housing, however, is another matter. Particularly here, faith-based and other organizations should retain the freedom they have always had to make housing placements in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs, including when it concerns a cohabiting couple, be it an unmarried heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple. Given the very large role that faith-based organizations play in HUD programs, the regulation, by infringing upon that freedom, may have the ultimate effect of driving away organizations with a long and successful track record in meeting housing needs, leaving beneficiaries without the housing that they sought or that the government intended them to receive.

    HUD’s decision reflects a growing awareness of the discrimination actually faced by people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. A recent study revealed that one in five transgender individuals has experienced homelessness. An estimated 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, and LGBT elders are at higher risk for homelessness due to the compounding financial inequities they experience over their lifetimes.

    This is only the latest of several threats from the Catholic Church to suspend charity support in the face of LGBT progress. In 2009, when the District of Columbia was preparing to pass marriage equality, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington threatened to discontinue all social services for the city if the same-sex marriage law was passed. After the law passed, DC Catholic Charities dropped all spousal benefits for newlyweds and new hires. In Maine, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland pulled its funding of a homeless shelter because of its support of same-sex marriage.

    But, while the Bishops feel that it is more important to discriminate against LGBT people than to actually provide them housing, a recent study revealed that 74% of American Catholics support same-sex marriage or civil unions. In conjunction with its new proposed policy (PDF), HUD is also conducting its own study of housing discrimination against LGBT people.

  3. Why are so few of the animals in prison. A serial rapist should be locked away for life to ensure that the public is safe from them.

  4. RE: Tootie, March 28, 2011 at 6:31 am


    I tend to agree about absolute power and corruption.

    Over-generalization may, alas, weaken otherwise valid views.

    From direct personal experience, I know that many of “all those Hispanics Democrats are letting into the country” are not Roman Catholic.

    And yet, like those of every group of humans of comparable size, some Roman Catholics do really good things, some do really bad things, and some do both.

    Methinks “it” is not about religious establishment affiliation…

    Prejudice greatly saddens me…

    …Especially when I find prejudice has grabbed onto me for a while.

  5. Well good grief. To you leftist religious bigots out there: Just what do you think all those Hispanics Democrats are letting into the country are?


    Truly, the problem is not Catholicism. The problem is absolute power: it corrupts. It always does. The Boy Scouts have learned how to to handle this problem and it would be well for the Catholics to follow their example. Also, I understand from the linked article that the church is addressing this issue with its new priests.

    Of course the left is always hysterical and super pious about priests molesting kids but not so much that school teachers do it also and perhaps at a greater rate. I guess the Dems don’t want to shut down schools because of it either. That might interfere with the unions and the election of Democrat candidates.

  6. That is ok by me Mike….I type so, so….use four finger 2 off of each hand and the thumb occasionally…I am fast thought…30 words a minute…thank god for spell check…

    Hey Mike…When are you going to be a weekend blogger….You are already out…You are smart, fairly intelligent…I think the Professor could do well to hear your view points expressed in a topic….You are prolific to boot…meant in a good way…

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