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Archdiocese Apologizes For Priest's Sexual Abuses

Oct 11, 2000 | AP

Twenty-two men who say they were abused by a priest when they were boys have settled an estimated $44 million lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, and the church apologized to the men yesterday.

The allegations against the Rev. Maurice Grammond, 80, made it the largest known case of clergy abuse in Oregon and among the top in the nation.

The plaintiffs, former altar boys, charged that between 1950 and 1974 Grammond enticed them to engage in sexual acts.

Grammond is a patient at an Alzheimer's care facility in a Portland suburb.

Announcement of the settlement - and the archdiocese's apology - were made at the Multnomah County Courthouse in Portland. A state judge and a federal judge acted as mediators to try to keep the case from going into a lengthy and expensive trial.

"This settlement ends half a century of fear, secrecy, silence and shame that protected Father Grammond," plaintiffs' lawyer David Slader said.

The apology, which is to be read in all 120 churches in the archdiocese, was part of the settlement. In it, Archbishop John Vlazny concedes that "some of the priests" of the archdiocese "have sexually molested children who were entrusted to the care of the church."

"To any person who has suffered from abuse by any personnel of the Archdiocese of Portland and to their families, I express my deep regret and ask for pardon and forgiveness," said the written statement.

Over more than three decades, Grammond served at a home for troubled and abused boys in Portland, and parishes in Seaside and Oakridge, Ore. Most of the alleged victims had been altar boys in Seaside, where Grammond spent 20 years before his retirement in 1985.

The plaintiffs kept quiet about the alleged abuse for two decades and more, not wanting to confront what had happened to them when they were boys, said their lawyer.

Most live in Oregon and range in age from 39 to 61. The oldest is a former resident of the boys home in Portland. Another is a homeless man in Hawaii.

The first lawsuit was filed last year by Joe Elliott, who grew up in Seaside and now lives in Portland. After that, more alleged victims of Grammond stepped forward.

Doug Ray, now a city councilman in Seaside, has said that from the third or fourth grade until he was a freshman in high school, Grammond subjected him to increasing sexual abuse "as bad as one can imagine, and worse."

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