Timeline for abuse of tens of thousands of First Nation children in Roman Catholic Industrial Schools in Canada
Timeline for abuse of tens of thousands of First Nation children in Roman Catholic Industrial Schools in Canada
In the 1960s and ’70s, almost an entire generation of Alaska Native children in the village of St. Michael were sexually abused by Catholic priests and church workers. Here’s information on the history of the abuse, legal actions taken by the survivors, and how the child abuse crimes in Alaska fits into the larger story of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.
Editors’ Note: This timeline contains descriptions of sexual abuse.
In 1867, the United States purchases Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. U.S. Catholic missionaries begin pouring into the new state.
The missionaries arrive in St. Michael and build their first mission in 1899. A church is built a year later. The village is in a remote section of Alaska, almost 200 miles from the Arctic Circle, and is not accessible by roads.
In the early 1900s, an influenza and measles epidemic known as the “Great Sickness” wipes out more than 60 percent of Alaska’s Native population. After the epidemic, Jesuits make headway in converting Alaska Natives.
Father George S. Endal, S.J., arrives in Alaska and is assigned to the Holy Cross Mission in Holy Cross. He remains there for two years.
In 1938, Endal is transferred to Mountain Village and serves there until 1946, at which time he transfers to the village of Alakanuk. In 1948, he arrives in Dillingham, where he builds a school, a chapel and residences.
Father George Endal meets Joseph Lundowski sometime after 1949. There is very little known about Lundowski’s past, other than the fact that he served in the Army during World War II under Gen. George Patton in North Africa, that he was briefly a Trappist monk and that he was a netsetter in Alaska.
Without church authorization, Endal names Lundowski a “Brother” and places him in charge of the boys’ dormitory at the Holy Rosary Mission School in Dillingham.
Years later, a former student testifies that Endal knew about Lundowski’s sexual abuse because he walked into a church room in Dillingham “where he saw Joe sucking my penis.” Endal reportedly warned the then 6-year-old boy to stay away from Lundowski because it wasn’t safe
Father James E. Poole, S.J., receives his first assignment in Alaska as pastor in the Native villages of Mountain Village, Pilot Station and Marshall. Poole becomes the host of a popular Catholic radio program at KNOM in Nome and, in 1978, is named one of Alaska’s hippest DJs by People magazine.
In 2004, Father Henry G. Hargreaves, S.J, who was Poole’s supervisor, is asked about the letter during a deposition. He responds: “It’s all hearsay. It, no one saw it first, and then it was nothing more than gossip.”
An additional letter is written to the vicar general by a senior Jesuit, stating that the church “should have gotten rid of [Lundowski] a long time ago.” This letter suggests that the church knew who Lundowski was and, in some cases, had serious concerns about him.
But after his arrival in St. Michael, Lundowski begins serving as a de-facto deacon, administering communion and teaching catechism. His victims say their molestations, including rape, typically occurred after Mass or catechism when Lundowski would bribe his victims with candy, money, sacramental wine, beer and the promise of better grades.
According to church documents, Lundowski’s sexual predation of children “accelerated” after he and Endal were transferred.
Packy Kobuk decides to talk openly about his sexual abuse. He raises the issue with at least three priests and Bishop Michael J. Kaniecki. Kobuk reports: “He would just change the subject.”
One priest, Father Ward Walker, later states that he reported Kobuk’s allegations to the diocese. The diocese maintains there are no records of that report.
During the same year, Father Thomas P. Doyle, a canon lawyer for the Vatican embassy, writes a confidential memo to U.S. Catholic bishops. He lays out 30 known cases of abuse across the country with around 100 victims, and estimates that cost to the church could be $1 billion over 10 years.
“Your letter came to me as a shock and sadden [sic] me as to your condition. It goes without saying that if I am in anyway [sic] to blame for your illness, I apologize. …
“I pray to God who relieves all illness to comfort you and to restore you to perfect health. Since I left Alaska and came [to Chicago] to work, I have accepted the Lord in a real and personal manner. … I too have suffered. Two years ago I had a heart attack with a stroke and still have limited use of my legs and arms. My prayer for myself every day is for Him to come and take me. I don’t write this for sympathy, but to let you see the Lord punishes us in his own ways.”
A few months later, Father George Endal dies while a resident of the Pioneers Home, a church facility in Anchorage. His career with the Catholic Church in Alaska spanned 60 years.
Former Anchorage prosecutor Ken Roosa signs his first client in Alaska’s sexual abuse scandal.
Read more about this meeting and the events surrounding it on the PBS NewsHour’s website.
Pope John Paul II appoints Father Donald Kettler as the fourth bishop of Fairbanks. He is the first non-Jesuit to head the diocese; before his appointment he was a parish priest who performed a regular televised mass in South Dakota.
At their annual general meeting in Dallas, U.S. bishops approve a “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” [PDF], calling for zero tolerance for child sexual abuse by clergy. They also authorize an investigation by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice into sexual abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church. It becomes known as the “John Jay Report” and is released in 2004. The research reveals that, “of the 195 dioceses and eparchies that participated in the study, all but seven have reported that allegations of sexual abuse of youths under the age of 18 have been made against at least one priest serving in ecclesiastical ministry in that diocese or eparch.”
Pope John Paul II speaks publicly for the first time about the sex scandals during an outdoor mass concluding World Youth Day in Toronto. He tells a crowd of more than 800,000 Catholics that the harmful actions of some “fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame.”
Rev. Jim Poole testifies about accusations that he sexually molested children in a deposition. He admits to “French-kissing” Elsie Boudreau but denies that he did it in a sexual way.
Twenty-eight men in Alaska file a suit against the Jesuits claiming that Joseph Lundowski sexually abused them. During the following years, more and more claimants come forward. Their attorney, Ken Roosa, describes how it happened:
“… after we first began filing lawsuits and expanded the number of molesters that we were suing, each time as we identified a new molester, it would open up a new group of victims because no victim wanted to be the first one to say something about a priest, because each person believed they were the only one until they found out somebody had made a complaint against their perpetrator and then they would go, ‘Wow, I’m not the only one.
Elsie Boudreau publicly reveals her identity just prior to the finalized settlement of her lawsuit against Rev. Jim Poole. She states, “Not using my name just continued the secrecy of abuse.”
Her settlement is announced on April 4, 2005; she receives a combined $1 million from the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks and the Oregon Province of the Society Jesus, the Jesuit group that includes Alaska.
For more on the bankruptcy filings, read our interviews with attorney Ken Roosa and Bishop Donald Kettler. Roosa claims that “both of these institutions have sought refuge in the bankruptcy process,” while Bishop Kettler claims that “being a missionary diocese, we did not have a lot of financial resources.”
The Diocese of Fairbanks bankruptcy settlement is approved. The diocese agrees to pay victims $10 million. The non-monetary section of the settlement requires the bishop to personally apologize to the nearly 300 victims. It also stipulates that the bishop meets privately with any victim who asks, read a statement from the pulpit, post a list of perpetrators, conduct a healing ceremony and pay for counseling services.
Chapter 3 of The Silence focuses on Bishop Donald Kettler’s visit to St. Michael in December 2010 to apologize to survivors. You can read Bishop Kettler’s thoughts about and reaction to the visit here:
“There’s no satisfaction, I think, to what has happened. I pray and hope that they will be able to forgive and to offer their forgiveness, not only for the sake of the person who did it, but for their own sake. And I believe that being able to forgive can bring a little peace into their hearts; and I’ve seen that happen. If they can say to me, ‘I forgive you for the part that I had to play with it.’ And they do say sometimes, ‘I feel better,’ you know. So maybe there’s something happening in there. But you know, we can never do enough to make up for what’s happened to them personally.
Notable U.S. Catholic Clergy Abuse Settlements
- Alaska $50 million — In November 2007, the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus settles with 110 Alaska Natives, including those in St. Michael and Stebbins.
$10 million — After its bankruptcy filing is approved in January 2010, the Diocese of Fairbanks agrees to pay nearly 300 victims of clergy sexual abuse. The settlement requires Bishop Kettler to apologize in person to them and also meet privately with any victim who asks. He also must read a statement from the pulpit, post a list of perpetrators, conduct a healing ceremony and pay for counseling services.
$166.1 million — In March 2010, the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus reaches a settlement for some 524 cases of clergy sex abuse that occurred in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Montana. Those who file suit includes men and women who had settled with the Jesuits in November 2007, as well as additional survivors.
- Massachusetts $85 million — On Sept. 9, 2003, the Archdiocese of Boston agrees to pay a settlement to more than 500 victims of clergy sex abuse.
- Oregon $53 million — The Archdiocese of Portland files for bankruptcy after paying abuse victims in July 2004. It’s considered the first bankruptcy filing by a U.S. archdiocese.
- California $660 million — The Archdiocese of Los Angeles agrees to pay more than 500 victims of clergy sex abuse in July 2007.
The Orange County Diocese reaches an undisclosed settlement with 87 victims of clergy sexual abuse in December 2004. It is thought that the payout is larger than the $85 million reached in the Boston Archdiocese settlement.
Posted on February 15, 2015, in Bishop Robert L. Whelan, Diocese of Fairbanks, Father George S. Endal, Father Henry G. Hargreaves, Father James E. Poole, Father Joseph Lundowski, Father Jules Convert and tagged Bishop Robert L. Whelan, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Diocese of Fairbanks, Father Donald Kettle, Father George S. Endal, Father Henry G. Hargreaves, Father James E. Poole, Father Joseph Lundowski, Father Jules Convert, Father Jules M. Convert General Superior of the Jesuits, Holy Cross Mission in Holy Cross, Holy Rosary Mission School in Dillingham, Jesuit Vicar General Father John Swain, Lundowski's sexual predation of children "accelerated" after he and Endal were transferred, Oregon Province of the Society Jesus, Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, Pioneers Home in Anchorage, pope benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Servants of Paraclete in New Mexico, Society of Jesuits, The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus reaches a settlement of $166.1 million for approximately 524 cases of clergy sexual abuse, The Silence, The Society of Jesus, Timeline for abuse of tens of thousands of First Nation children in Roman Catholic Industrial Schools in Canada, Vicar General Father John E. Gurr, village of Alakanuk, village of St. Michael. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.