Suit: Boys were told to keep quiet about '70s assaults

Seven men, claiming they were sexually abused by a priest while held in MacLaren School for Boys in Salem nearly 30 years ago, have filed a $28 million lawsuit against the priest, the Archdiocese of Portland and the state.

In the suit filed Monday, the men, now in their 40s, said they were sodomized by the Rev. Michael Sprauer, a priest assigned by the archdiocese to counsel boys at MacLaren from 1972 to 1975.

Sprauer, currently assigned as a priest at St. Joseph parish in Salem, 'emphatically' denied the allegations in a statement released Monday by the archdiocese.

The suit also claims that MacLaren authorities, when they learned of the abuse, told the then teenagers to stay quiet or 'they would keep the boys in confinement for an additional five years,' said Dan Gatti, an attorney in Salem and Portland who is representing the seven men.

Besides Sprauer, the suit names as defendants the Archdiocese of Portland, Sprauer's employer now and at the time of the alleged abuse; the state of Oregon; the Oregon Department of Human Services;

MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility; and the Oregon Youth Authority, which operates MacLaren.

The suit comes less than two weeks after the archdiocese had settled more than half of the 100 sex abuse lawsuits against several priests.

Five of the seven men appeared at a news conference in Portland on Monday to talk about the suit: Curtis Grecco, 44, of Portland; Douglas DeJong, 48, of Bend; Donald Steffan, 48, of Portland; Brad Vollmer, 45, of Portland; and Charles Naylor, 45, of Salem.

Two other defendants did not attend the news conference but were identified in the suit as Rodney Kessler and Earl New Ñ addresses unknown.

Grecco said he was willing to file suit because he wants to face Sprauer. 'I want him to know what he has done to me,' he said. 'This has had an impact on my life, my children and my ex-wives. I want this to be rectified and justified. What he did wasn't right.'

A statement released by the archdiocese denied that church officials knew about the abuse. Sprauer will be placed on administrative leave indefinitely, according to the archdiocese.

The statement said Sprauer served as a chaplain and an employee of the state Department of Corrections for 25 years, beginning in 1972.

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