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Sex-Abuse Suit Filed Against Ex-Priest

May 16, 2003 | The Honolulu Advertiser

A lawsuit charging sexual abuse was filed yesterday in state court against the Rev. Joseph Bukoski III, who was removed from his position as pastor of a Lahaina church last year.

Eugene Saulibio's suit is also against Sister Claudia Wong, a Catholic social worker, and The Fathers of The Sacred Hearts.

The suit says Bukoski gave Saulibio alcohol and drugs and sexually assaulted him in 1976. At the time, Saulibio was a 15-year-old student at Saint Louis High School in Honolulu, and Bukoski was a priest at The Fathers of the Sacred Hearts center in Kane'ohe.

The suit asks for damages to be determined at trial.

Bukoski was removed from his position as pastor of Maria Lanakila Church in Lahaina, Maui, last August after allegations of sexual misconduct with two minors more than 20 years ago were made public. In April, Bukoski lost an appeal to Rome, ending any attempt to get his job back as pastor of the church.

Bukoski, 50, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, denied the initial allegation of misconduct. He has also received support from hundreds of former Maria Lanakila parishioners who circulated petitions, wrote letters and held vigils and prayer services in his honor.

Saulibio says in the suit that The Fathers of The Sacred Hearts and Wong conspired to protect the Catholic church and Bukoski by disregarding knowledge of the priest's sexually inappropriate behavior and continuing to employ him.

The Fathers of The Sacred Hearts and Wong could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Patrick Downes, a spokesman for the Honolulu Diocese, which was not named in the suit, said Honolulu Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has no comment.

Downes said when the bishop removed Bukoski from public ministry he essentially returned him to The Fathers of the Sacred Hearts, where he is a member of the congregation.

In the suit, Saulibio said he sought advice and counseling from the church in May 2002. Saulibio alleges Wong purposely misled him during counseling by attempting to cast doubt in his mind that the incident had occurred, according to the suit.

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