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Man Claims Priest Abuse

A Stayton pastor molested him from 1967 to 1970, he says in a lawsuit

Dec 4, 2003 | Salem Statesman Journal A 47-year-old man who claims that he was sexually molested by a Catholic priest in Stayton more than 30 years ago filed a $4 million lawsuit Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Portland and Immaculate Conception Parish.

The man, identified only as D.C., claims that the Rev. Henri Arata befriended him as an 11- or 12-year-old altar boy and molested him numerous times from 1967 through 1970, according to the lawsuit.

“This is a case of aggravated sex abuse that went on for a number of years with a kid that not only was a parishioner and an altar boy but someone who had a close relationship with this priest, as did his family,” said Michael S. Morey, a Lake Oswego lawyer representing D.C.

According to the complaint, Arata “used his position as priest to manipulate, groom, seduce and sexually abuse” the boy.

Morey said his client now is married with three children. He works in the education field and lives between Salem and Portland.

D.C. said the sexual abuse occurred at the priest’s residence and at Immaculate Conception Church in Stayton. Blaming himself, he kept the abuse secret until May 2002. At that time, he said, he finally revealed it to a minister.

“It was difficult, but it felt like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders,” he said.

Now undergoing therapy, D.C. said that he decided to file suit because he was interested in “holding the church accountable.” At this point, he said, he wants to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of his family.

The Multnomah County lawsuit demands a jury trial and seeks $4 million in damages to compensate D.C. for “debilitating physical and emotional injury.” In addition, the lawsuit asks for $25,000 to cover estimated costs for his counseling and psychological treatment.

Arata was ordained in May 1960, according to Catholic Church records. He retired for health reasons in 1982 and died the same year.

The Archdiocese of Portland issued the following statement: “As has been noted before, dealing with a lawsuit involving events which allegedly occurred more than 30 years ago, and when the priest has been dead more than 20 years, presents a great challenge to the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese will investigate this matter and proceed in an appropriate manner.”

According to information from Morey’s law office, Arata served as parish priest at Immaculate Conception Church from 1969 until 1975.

He also served in Stayton as a counselor at St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School and Regis High School from 1964 until 1975, Morey’s office said.

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