exposing the dark side of adoption
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Author: P-I staff and news services

Dateline: SEATTLE

A second man will lodge sexual-abuse charges against the Rev. James Mitchell, a priest who worked for the Seattle Archdiocese during the 1980s and is the target of a lawsuit contending that he positioned himself as an adoptive father in order to bring a Colombian boy to the United States and abuse him.

The second suit, to be filed today in King County Superior Court, lays out a similar scenario. In it, a 37-year-old man now living in Sherwood, Ore., says that he met Mitchell in 1982, when the priest was working in Colombia on a humanitarian mission for the church. There, the suit says, Mitchell began sexually abusing the then-14-year-old boy, and claimed to adopt him as a son before bringing the child to the United States.

By 1985, the two were living at St. John's Parish in Vancouver, where the molestation continued until the summer of 1986, according to the complaint, filed by lawyer Mary Fleck.

Mitchell, a California native who worked, in effect, as a freelancer for the Seattle Archdiocese, devoted much of his ministry in Colombia to running a school for poor children. He was recalled from the Vancouver parish in 1986, after another priest at St. John's reported evidence of alcohol abuse. By 1987, he had been removed from the Seattle Archdiocese.

Mitchell later moved to Pullman, where he ministers, unofficially, to Spanish-speaking parishioners in the Spokane diocese. A man who answered the home telephone at his residence there said Mitchell is traveling in Colombia.

2005 Jan 20