Lawsuit: Alaska Villages 'Dumping Ground' for Abusive Priests

"It was a paradise for abusers," said Kenney, who is now 74 and living in Juneau.

Elsie Boudreau, who said she was abused by Father James Poole in the town of Nome in the 1970s, said the priest was like family.

"He was loved by a lot of people. He was very charismatic," she said. "I figured because he was a priest, and everybody seemed to like him, that this must be OK. I felt I was really special."

"To me," said Boudreau, who settled a separate lawsuit in connection with her allegations against Poole and now works with plaintiffs attorneys, "I thought it was love."

Poole did not return a call seeking comment. In a deposition, he admitted to "French kissing" Beaudreau, starting when she was about 13 but denied that other sexual abuse had occurred.

Kenney said the mission was an isolated place where girls were encouraged not to have much contact with one another. She said each girl was given a number on arrival, and the nuns frequently called her by her number, "Miss 14."

Kenney said she went into deep depression and stopped talking and eating. "I used to wander around with tears coming down my face, day and night," she said.

Lawsuit: Jesuits Kept 'Hell Files' on Abusive Priests

That was when she was sent to the father superior for help, she said. The abuse started soon after, she claims. Kenney, now 74, says she was 13 or 14 at the time.

The lawsuit claims Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, the head of the Jesuits in the Northwest from 1990 to 1996, had access to "hell files," church documents that contained information about Jesuit priests that was "special," "not public" and "not good."

Sundborg allegedly allowed at least one priest to serve in Alaska during that time frame, despite knowing that he had abused other children, the most recent lawsuit claims.

In a statement, Sundborg said, "The allegations brought against me are false. I firmly deny them. I want the victims and the entire community to know that."

He called the lawsuit "an unprincipled and irresponsible attack on my reputation. Let me be clear -- my commitment to justice and reconciliation for all victims remains steadfast. The sexual abuse by Catholic priests is one of the most shameful episodes in the history of our church. I will continue to work toward the goal of bringing healing to all victims."

Lee said he had never seen evidence that abusers were sent to Alaska.

"Jesuits requested to be assigned to this mission. It was seen as a very challenging place to go, but one which attracted Jesuits who had a deep desire to spread the gospel," he said in a statement.

The claims of abuse range from fondling to child rape, between the 1940s and 2001, in Nulato, Hooper Bay, Stebbins, Chevak, Mountain Village, Nunam Iqua and St. Michael.

But alleged victims like Abouchuk said the priests were known abusers.

"I want to know why they sent them out there. They could have saved a lot of lives. They could have saved our lives," said Abouchuk, who said she was abused when she was a student in the village of St. Michael in the 1970s. "But they never did. They sent them out there."

Abouchuk, now 40 and living in Washington state, claims she was abused by the local deacon beginning when she was 7 years old. The lawsuit claims that the Anton Smario, a church volunteer, abused numerous girls after catechism class.

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