11 Mar 2008

Molestation suit names priest

Star Bulletin - Hawaii

March 11, 2008

By Rod Thompson

HILO » A man identified only as "John Doe" has filed suit in Circuit Court in Hilo alleging that he was sexually molested by a Roman Catholic priest for more than a year sometime during or after 1979.

The suit identifies the priest as the Rev. Eugene Blazek and states that he is believed to be living in North Carolina, where he is a chaplain with the U.S. armed forces.

The suit was filed on behalf of Hawaii County resident Doe by Honolulu attorneys David Gierlach and Brian Duus against Blazek, the church and other unknown defendants who might have had some responsibility for the alleged acts against Doe.

Blazek is still listed in the Honolulu diocese directory of clergy, but he has not lived in the islands for more than 20 years, said the Rev. Marc Alexander, diocesan vicar general.

The diocese has no comment on the suit, Alexander said.

The suit says Blazek was introduced to Doe sometime between 1979 and 1982. Doe's age at the time is not given, but reference is made to other "youngsters" also allegedly molested by Blazek.

The suit says the church "knew or should have known that defendant Blazek was a sexual predator who was assaulting youngsters including plaintiff."

The conduct included having Doe become intoxicated and then sexually assaulting him, the suit says. The exact nature of the assault is not described. The emotional distress included fear of "imminent battery" by the priest, the suit says.

"The trauma inflicted upon plaintiff by defendant Blazek was such that it caused plaintiff to sustain repressed and/or suppressed memories of the events," the suit says.

Those memories returned to Doe in January or February 2007, when he was in a church rectory, the home of a priest, for the first time since his youth. While in the rectory Doe began to suffer flashbacks involving sexual abuse by Blazek, the suit says.

Because those memories became available to Doe only last year, the statute of limitations on filing suit has not run out, the suit claims. The suit seeks general, special and punitive damages.

Five other suits claiming sexual misconduct by priests in Hawaii have been filed since 2002, all referring to incidents 20 or more years in the past. The Catholic diocese reached a settlement with two plaintiffs who accused one priest, but details of the 2004 agreement were kept secret. A state judge dismissed another suit, which named a priest who had been dead for 30 years. Other suits named priests who were members of Maryknoll, Capuchin and Sacred Hearts religious orders.

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