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Lawsuits make new intercourse abuse claims in opposition to Legion of Christ

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic order disgraced by the sexual abuse of its founder and other clergymen, faces new child abuse charges in lawsuits filed this month in Connecticut, where they are based Has.

Five men and one woman sued the order in federal court April 14 and 15, saying they were victims of sex crimes while attending schools run by the Legion of Christ in New Hampshire and Rhode Island as children in the 1990s were operated.

A spokesman for the order said Monday that it was looking into the complaints.

“The Legionaries of Christ respect anyone who makes these kinds of allegations and are committed to creating and maintaining a safe environment for all children and all people who interact with their members and are involved in their services,” said spokeswoman Gail Gore.

The five men claim they were petted and other ill-treatment while attending the Apostolic School of the Immaculate Conception in Center Harbor, New Hampshire. The woman claims she was exposed to an employee while attending the Immaculate Conception Academy in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.

The men known as John Does 1 through 5 in court documents are from Grants Pass, Oregon, Bellevue, Ohio, Sacramento, California, Fenton, Michigan, and Immokalee, Florida. The woman is from Auburn, California.

Three of the men claim they were ill-treated by a member of the Order. A fourth says he was molested by another member of the Legion. The fifth man claims he was ill-treated by another New Hampshire School student. The woman says she was exposed to a Legion member at the Rhode Island Academy.

Headquartered in Cheshire, Connecticut, the Legion of Christ has fought litigation in the United States over the aftermath of a sexual abuse scandal involving the Order’s founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, and church officials. A church investigation found that Maciel sexually molested seminarians and fathered three children. The Vatican took over the order in 2010, and Pope Benedict XVI. Ordered a major reform.

In a report released last month, the Order states that 27 priests of the Legion of Christ committed sexual abuse from 1941 to 2020, representing 2% of the 1,380 members ordained to the priesthood worldwide throughout the history of the Order. According to the report, there were around 170 minors who were sexually abused by the priests.

Two of the priests were tried in criminal courts, three died without trial, and the others were not prosecuted, the report said. Sixteen of the 27 priests have been sanctioned by the church, and eight are facing disciplinary proceedings.

In 2019, the Legion of Christ admitted that four priests at the New Hampshire school, which closed in 2015, had molested students.

In 2012, the Rhode Island school closed after dozens of women reported suffering psychological abuse that resulted in multiple cases of anorexia, stress-related migraines, depression, and thoughts of suicide.