In mid-January, Portland attorney David Slater filed a suit on behalf of 12 men who were allegedly sexually abused as children by a former high priest in the Church of Latter-day Saints. According to Slader, the priest--Franklin Curtis--had been abusing children over a period of approximately 20 years. Though Curtis has since died, the men are now seeking a settlement through the church.
According to the suit filed, the Mormon Church was aware that Curtis "had an uncontrollable urge to engage in sexual acts with adolescent and pre-adolescent boys by exploiting their respect for his position as a priest."
Stephen English, the lawyer representing the church, disputes that the church was aware of Curtis' problem. He also explained, "The abuse [some of] these people are claiming took place outside the church, and had nothing to do with the church itself." KATIA DUNN
Illegals' Legal Troubles
For almost three years, Zenaido Garcia, from Mexico, worked as an undocumented worker for a local janitorial service. Frustrated with uncharacteristically low pay, Garcia collaborated with Justice for Janitors to form a union. But last November, he was fired. Believing that his dismissal is directly connected to his unionizing efforts, last week, Garcia filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
It is a legal catch-22: As an illegal immigrant, Garcia chooses either exploitation or deportation. The complaint raises the thorny legal question whether undocumented workers should enjoy the same protections and privileges as American citizens.
Coincidentally, these very issues found their way in front of the U.S. Supreme Court last Tuesday, when oral arguments were heard for a similar case, Hoffman Plastics, Inc. v. NLRB. Like Garcia's plight, an undocumented worker was laid off during a union campaign. In 1998, he complained to the NLRB and was awarded back pay. The company, Hoffman Plastics, has appealed that decision.
A decision from the Supreme Court--expected sometime this summer--will not only affect Garcia, but thousands of undocumented workers who work in Oregon; it will further define the scope of legal privileges for illegal immigrants. PHIL BUSSE