January 10, 2018
Portland, OR — The Archdiocese of Portland was sued today by three men who allege they were sexually abused as children by a priest in North Bend, Oregon during the early 1980s.
The lawsuit, filed today in United States District Court for the District of Oregon, alleges that the three victims were each abused by Fr. Pius Brazauskas who worked at the Holy Redeemer Church in North Bend from the late 1970s until as late as 1990.
According to the complaint, the Plaintiffs in today’s lawsuit allege that they were sexually abused on multiple occasions between 1978 and 1982, when they were each between 5 and 12 years old. The Plaintiffs’ allege that the abuse included the priest french kissing the boys, pressing his erect penis against them, and groping their genitals.
The three plaintiffs in today’s lawsuit are the first known victims to speak publicly about abuse by Fr. Pius Brazauskas.
“To our knowledge, our courageous clients are the first victims to publicly acknowledge abuse by this priest. Based on the information available, we know that Fr. Pius Brazauskas had extensive access to children for decades and we strongly suspect that there are other victims who were sexually abused by this priest,” said attorney Peter Janci of Crew Janci LLP, legal counsel for the plaintiffs in today’s lawsuit.
According to a newspaper profile, Brazauskas was of Lithuanian ancestry and studied fine arts in Europe before World War II. (See attached.) After the outset of the war, Brazauskas came to the United States where he became an assistant pastor at a parish in St. Luis. In approximately 1957, Brazauskas was reassigned to Oregon, where he became the chaplain at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene until the early 1970s. In approximately 1972, Fr. Brazauskas relocated to North Bend, Oregon and became actively involved in Holy Redeemer Catholic Church and St. Catherine’s Residence Nursing Home.
News reports from Oregon outlets acknowledge that Fr. Pius was known for having a special rapport with children:
Children [were] a special delight to this Catholic priest. When he tells them his name is Father Pius, some want to know if he is really their father. He always has candy and bubble gum for the youngsters, and to some he is known only as ‘Dr. Bubblegum.’
See Eugene Register-Guard Article of May 26, 1957. The allegations in today’s lawsuit call the priests’ motivations and devotion to children into question.
“We believe that Fr. Pius was another in a long line of Catholic priests in Oregon who were permitted to continue having access to children despite numerous red flags,” said Stephen Crew, an attorney for the victims.
In 2004, the Archdiocese of Portland became the first Catholic diocese in the nation to file bankruptcy. By the time the bankruptcy proceeding was over in 2007, the Archdiocese had settled over 300 claims and paid out nearly $90 million in claims and attorney fees to close the bankruptcy.
“Sexually abusive Catholic priests devastated the lives and the souls of trusting children who loved their church and trusted their priest. The three men bringing this case are no exception,” said Janci, who regularly handles child sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, the Boy Scouts and other such institutions.
In 2010, Janci and Crew were part of the plaintiff’s legal team in a trial against the Boy Scouts of America that resulted in a jury verdict of nearly $20 million, including punitive damages, and also resulted in the “Perversion Files”—the secret abuse files of the BSA—becoming public for the first time.
Today’s lawsuit against the Archdiocese seeks $9 million in compensatory damages on behalf of the three Plaintiff, as well as $20 million in punitive damages.
If you or someone you care about was sexually abused and you would like advice from an attorney about the rights and options for victims of child sexual abuse, please contact Crew Janci LLP today for a free, confidential consultation at 1-888-407-0224 or by using our private online form. We will treat you with discretion and respect.
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