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Child sex abuse lawsuit settled

Unnamed plaintiff alleging he was sexually abused between 1987 and 1991 settles out of court


PORTLAND — Aside from references made to former Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends youth superintendent Bruce Bishop in the religious denomination’s public records, not much was known about the allegations of child sex abuse made in a civil lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court in July 2015.

It appears no new information will come to light after the suit was settled out of court in April and no additional details have been made public.

Newberg Friends Church, the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Church, the Friends Church Extension Fund and the Northwest Yearly Meeting Foundation were the remaining defendants in the case after the Evangelical Friends Church International Council and the Evangelical Friends Church North America were dismissed.

The plaintiff, who is referred to in court documents only as “A.J.,” was represented by the Portland law firm Kafoury and McDougal, which declined to comment on the case, citing that the plaintiff was no longer their client and therefore its attorneys could not speak on his behalf.

Karen Vickers of Mersereau Shannon in Portland represented the four remaining defendants and said she was not allowed to comment on the case. Interim Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends superintendent Retha McCutchen also declined to comment.

The suit was filed July 17, 2015, five days before the plaintiff’s 40th birthday, which represents the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases in Oregon. The attorney for the plaintiff indicated that it was filed in Multnomah County because it allows filing by initials in some cases to protect privacy.

The suit alleged Bishop engaged in 12 specific sexual activities with A.J., including directing him and other male youths to be naked together in Bishop’s presence, masturbating with him, having him pray to become a virgin again, teaching him how to prolong masturbation and rubbing the plaintiff’s chest and genitals.

Bishop has not responded to attempts to reach him for comment after the suit was filed.

The legal claims of the suit, which sought $4 million in noneconomic damages, as well as economic damages, loss of earning capacity and legal costs, included sexual exploitation and abuse and/or battery of a child, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional infliction of distress and negligence.

Bishop was not named as a defendant, but rather three of the charges were “respondeat superior,” meaning that the church and denomination were responsible for Bishop’s actions because they were done in the course of his employment.

According to the minutes from the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends’ annual conference in July 2010, Bishop was terminated “after information came to light regarding an improper relationship between Bruce and a minor in 1991.”

The minutes from 2010 state that Bishop “immediately confirmed the allegations when confronted,” and that then NWYM superintendent Colin Saxton and staff investigated whether there might have been others, but at that time indications pointed to the “1991 relationship” being an “isolated incident.”

Information from later conferences, however, indicate that the plaintiff may not have been Bishop’s only victim.

A March 25 hearing originally set the trial date as Aug. 19, but notice of a dismissal due to a pending settlement was issued April 13. The case was officially dismissed by Judge Nan Waller on April 28.