For Native American Clergy Sex Abuse Survivors, Justice is Elusive

By Cecily Hilleary, September 27, 2018, VOA News

Elsie Boudreau was 10 years old that afternoon in 1978 when Father James Poole called her and two playmates into the office of a small radio station he had founded in Nome, Alaska.

"He had us line up against the wall and began asking us questions," said Boudreau, who grew up in St. Mary’s, a tiny Yup’ik village in northwest Alaska where Poole had earlier served as pastor. "Then, he told the two other girls that they could leave, but that I should stay. He said it was because I was so much more mature than the other girls."

The abuse began with hours of French kissing and later escalated, lasting nine years.

"I have a memory of him being on top of me in a super high bed," Boudreau said. "I must have had an out-of-body experience, because when I look back, I’m actually hiding behind a door, peeking out, seeing myself in bed with him, a little girl with long hair in braids."

In 2003, Boudreau took action and wrote to the bishop of Alaska at the Fairbanks diocese. Unhappy with his response, she sued the Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus. She reached a $1 million settlement in 2005.

At the time of publication, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had not responded to VOA’s request for comment.

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  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2018-10-01 16:41:39 -0500
    As a clinical psychologist and psychology professor it is extremely common for victims of repeated sexual assault to seriously dissociate and to experience OBE’s as a natural defensive reaction to the ongoing terror and horror they experience during these experiences. It is not an indication of pathology!
    Rich, MSW

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