Justice for Abuse Survivor Part II: The Statute Means What it Says

Oregon Court of Appeals holds that the legislature does not need to use “magic words” to make a statute of limitations apply to formerly time-barred claims.

Doe v. Silverman, 287 Or. App. 247 (2017)

In my earlier post, I described a case in which Roggendorf Law LLC assisted some Southern Oregon colleagues on appeal in an abuse case arising out of a psychologist, Arthur Silverman, molesting one of Silverman’s son’s young friends.

At the trial court, the case against the wife was dismissed (since reversed—Doe v. Sliverman (and Dixon), 286 Ore. App. 813  (2017)), and the case against the abuser was dismissed separately, on timeliness grounds.  The trial court said that because the claim against Silverman had at one point been barred by the statute of limitations, the Legislature could not “revive” that claim without specifically saying so in a later amendment to the child abuse statute of limitations.

To explain, a statute of limitations requires a lawsuit be brought within a certain time of the event happening, the identity of the perpetrator becoming known, or the discovery that certain conduct caused harm.  In the case of child abuse, Oregon allows an abuse victim until age 40 to bring suit, or 5 years from discovery of a connection between the abuse and some later, separate injury (remembering the abuse is not enough), whichever period is longer.  ORS 12.117.    These limits were put in place in 2009 with the help of my former firm and myself.  The prior limits were age 24 or 3 years from discovery of the connection between the abuse and some later consequence, such as addiction, or relationship problems.

The argument in Doe v. Silverman was that the 2009 amendments did not apply because the victim was over 24 before 2009, so his claim had “expired.”  The problem (and the reason I’m using quotes around “revive” and “expired”) is that a common law claim like battery and negligence cannot “expire.”  The statute of limitations is just a procedural defense—something that a defendant has to ask for, or he loses it—so the legislature doesn’t need to expressly “revive” old claims.

In 2009, the Oregon Legislature was clear that it meant for the statute to “apply to all causes of action, whether arising before, on or after the effective date of this 2009 Act” (emphasis added).  All means all.  Because our client’s common law claims could not “expire” they did not need to be “revived.”

A plain reading of a clear statute.  The Court of Appeals got it right.

Justice for Abuse Survivor: Wife of an abuser can’t bury her head in the sand.

Oregon Court of Appeals holds that wife’s chilly reaction to victim after evidence of possible abuse is enough to keep her in the case.

Doe v. Sliverman (and Dixon), 286 Ore. App. 813  (2017)   

My fellow lawyer from Southern Oregon, Tom Petersen, called me up about a case where the trial court dismissed a sex abuse survivor’s lawsuit against the abuser, former child psychologist Samuel Arthur Silverman, and his wife at the very start of the case.  The allegations against the wife were that she knew the husband had an improper sexual interest in children generally, and in particular, that she saw the 13 year old victim come out of her husband’s separate, private bedroom one morning when he had been staying the night ostensibly visiting the couple’s son, the victim’s friend from school.

After seeing our client in that compromising situation, the wife, a doctor specializing  in adolescent psychology named Sandra Dixon, MD, was alleged to have begun treating our client very coldly, ignoring him entirely whenever possible.  There was also evidence that Dixon had known Silverman presented a danger to children based on past instances of abuse or suspicious behavior.  Silverman was eventually arrested, tried, and sentenced to prison for sexually abusing our client.  He absconded overseas for a time, but after 8 years on the run, was caught and extradited to Oregon to serve his sentence.

Oregon law on the child abuse statute of limitations (ORS 12.117) allows child abuse victims to bring suit until age 40, or within 5 years of making a connection between one’s abuse and subsequent injuries, whichever is later.  In dismissing the claim, Dr. Sandra Dixon argued (and the trial court agreed) that she did not “knowingly” allow, permit, or encourage abuse by Silverman because she did not see the abuse itself.  The Court of Appeals rightly rejected such a narrow view of what the legislature meant by “allowing” child abuse to happen.  Unless it is further appealed, the case now returns to the trial court to find out exactly what Sandra Dixon knew about her husband’s proven sexual abuse of our client.

Roggendorf Law Files Suit against Dominican Order, Holy Rosary Parish

Roggendorf Law filed suit today on behalf of a man who was abused for nearly a decade at Portland’s Holy Rosary Church in Northeast Portland, a church operated and staffed by the Western Dominican Province of the Holy Name.  He is using a pseudonym to shield his identity and protect his family from reprisals.

Between the ages of 8 and 17, my client was fondled, kissed on the mouth, and subjected to crude and salacious discussions of pornography and masturbation by Fr. Emmerich Vogt, a priest of the order.  Around age 12, my client reported  the kissing and the graphic sex talk to other Dominican priests at Holy Rosary, but was told to obey Fr. Vogt and to stop complaining.

The complaint seeks $950,000 in damages.

Read the complaint: HERE.

Home Left – About Kristian Roggendorf

Kristian Roggendorf

Kristian Roggendorf

For nearly 20 years now, Kristian Roggendorf has been at the forefront of making Oregon safer for children and obtaining justice for people who have been harmed by those in power. Taking his first legal job with a small firm called O’Donnell & Clark as a law clerk in 2000, Kristian helped the firm grow into one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier litigation firms representing individuals abused as children in the institutions they trusted, often by people they turned to for safety. As a lawyer since 2001, Kristian has advocated as an attorney in court, as a witness in the legislature, and as a spokesman in the media, fighting back against the bullies of this world—whether they wear a priest’s collar or carry a government job title. Now practicing in Colorado, and with our main office in San Diego, we can help you with your case anywhere in the West.



Specializing in Civil Appeals, Child Abuse cases, and Representing Citizens against the Government, Kristian is proud to be a part of the Zalkin Law Firm, continuing to help people who have been abused by those with power.

In cases such as J. M. v. Oregon Youth Auth., 364 Or. 232, 434 P.3d 402 (2019); Doe v. Silverman, 287 Ore. App. 247 (2017); Doe v. Silverman (Dixon), 286 Or App 813 (2017), N.K. v. Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 175 Wn. App. 517, 307 P.3d 730 (2013); Jack Doe 1 v. Lake Oswego School Dist., 353 Or. 321, 297 P.3d 1287 (2013); Doe v. Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 837 F Supp.2d 1145 (D. Idaho 2011); T.R. v. Boy Scouts of America, 344 Or. 282, 181 P.3d 758 (2008); and Schmidt v. Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, 218 Or App 661, 180 P3d 160 (2008), Kristian has used his intellect and advocacy skills hold accountable numerous institutions of trust and responsibility for their failure to keep kids safe.

Nice to See that Money Isn’t Enough for Politically Connected Accused Pervert

Terry Bean can’t buy his way out of trouble.

Politically-connected fundraiser to the President, Portland big shot Terry Bean, is accused of having sex with a 15 year old boy in a hotel in Eugene in 2013.  Bean is charged with felony sodomy among other charges.

Whether the victim wants to testify or not–and as much of a staunch advocate for victims as I am–an abuser settling with his victim should never get him out of criminal charges.  You can’t buy the criminal justice system in America (at least you shouldn’t be able to).

Moreover, according to the Oregonian, Bean has other past “indiscretions” that apparently did not result in charges:

Prosecutor Scott Healy opposed the civil compromise and offered detailed account of Bean’s sexual encounter with three teenage males — two of the incidents happened more than 20 years ago — in court filings.

If these allegations are true (and there’s no way of knowing beyond the prosecutor’s statements here, so that has to be taken with a grain of salt), such a history would suggest that sweeping these charges under the rug is not in the best interests of public safety.  Were there similar civil compromises in the past?

It’s nice to see that money can’t buy everything in this State, even for the politically connected.

Follow up on Sherwood Priest Ysrael Bien and the Bathroom Camera

As my dearly departed father would say, the plot thickens

From the Oregonian:

Priest pretended to notify police after teen found camera in church bathroom, records say

In my earlier post, I said that “the failure of Fr. Bien to report the camera at all until after it was subsequently “lost” speaks volumes about the continuing systemic failure of the Archdiocese to educate parishioners on the reporting of suspected abuse and misconduct.”

Well, let me hand it to the parishioners, they didn’t just let it go, and they were active in making sure the misconduct had been reported.  Fr. Bein simply lied to them that it had been.

Quelle suprise.

Here’s the load of horse pucky the priest gave the teen’s mother when she followed up to find out what was being done about the camera:

[Fr.Bien] told her that police had visited the parish and they didn’t need the boy’s statement or fingerprints because the priest had filled them in on everything, records say. Police had a suspect in mind who had used similar devices in other places, he continued. They were gathering more evidence to make an arrest, he said.

As the kids used to say, ya, right.

Even better, Fr. Bien started penning what appears to be his first in a series of fictional novels based around police investigation techniques:

“Sherwood police did not have enough to go with from the device,” the priest wrote. “Two sets of fingerprints were found: mine and, by process of elimination, (your son’s). … They were hoping to find a third set of fingerprints to lead them to the perpetrator. But there was none. Not surprising because they said it is consistent with the modus operandi of the person they have in mind. The device – same style and model – is ‘affiliated’ with this person. Unfortunately, these are ‘circumstantial (sic). Because of insufficient and inconclusive evidence, they are not able to place the person they have in mind in our church bathroom. …

“Fortunately, however, other police departments are pursuing the same person for another on-going case investigation (I am not sure if it is a crime of a similar nature or different and bigger). Happily, this is where they are confident they are going to get him. So, officially Sherwood police investigation of our incident is over. But other police departments (Tigard or Beaverton, I’m not exactly sure) are currently pursuing the person they think is also our perpetrator …”

The priest then asked the couple to pray for him because he was having some medical tests done.

On the last part, the medical tests, of course he would add that, to distract from the issue at hand.

In a court of law, if prosecuted, Fr. Bien deserves a presumption of innocence.  No such presumption applies in our regular lives.  I’m going out on a limb here and saying Fr. Bien was likely intimately and personally involved with placing this camera.  If that excludes me from the jury pool in his potential upcoming criminal trial, well, too bad.

Serious kudos to the family here for not letting this go, and for following up with police themselves.  That’s the way that all good Catholics should behave.  I’m proud of them, even as I’m ashamed of one of the priests of my faith.  Always listen to that little voice.

And yes, the device could have been bluetooth enabled.  Now of course, you all should go read the entire article, but let me leave you with this gem: “A judge signed search warrants for the church, Bien’s home, his car, phones and computers.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, Fr. Bien.

Archdiocese of Portland still has problems with its priests

At best, this story shows a disturbing lack of training for Fr. Ysrael Bien.  At worst, it suggests that he may have been involved in sexual misconduct.

Sherwood priest on leave as police investigate hidden camera

A fake outlet that concealed a camera was placed next to the toilet in the men’s room at St. Francis Church in Sherwood.  Per the Oregonian:

A church member initially found a camera – disguised as a power outlet – in a St. Francis bathroom on April 26 and turned it over to Bien.

But Bien didn’t contact police until May 20, when he reported it as stolen.

* * * * * outletcamerajpg-ebf87aaf77d52f2c[1]

The secret camera was placed next to a toilet and would have captured anyone who used the restroom[.]

What the hell is going on here?  Thankfully the Archdiocese has “suspended” Fr. Bien, but the failure of Fr. Bien to report the camera at all until after it was subsequently “lost” speaks volumes about the continuing systemic failure of the Archdiocese to educate parishioners on the reporting of suspected abuse and misconduct.  No mention of whether the camera had bluetooth capability.  Someone could have been—and almost certainly was—taping kids going to the bathroom in the church.  And this idiot doesn’t even report it to anyone for almost a month, and then only does to report it stolen!!!  Something is rotten in the parish of St. Francis.

Trusting individual priests to police themselves or their parishes was shown to be a spectacular failure for the decades leading up to the priest abuse scandal of the 2000s and the Archdiocese’s own bankruptcy in 2004-05.   Yet I’ve seen no communication from the Archbishop to the parishioners to report such misconduct to the Archbishop directly.  That needs to change.  Now.

Child Molesters Use Churches to Get to Kids

These two stories in the Oregonian shows how child abusers can be anyone, and that they love to infiltrate places where they can appear trustworthy.

Jon Patrick Wheat is already a registered sex offender, but still was able to gain access to and some measure of control over a 6 year old girl at a church in Oregon City.

Wheat’s story follows closely on the heels of another church abuse case, that one from Salem, where Peter James Bass pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree rape of a girl under 16.

So, why do child molesters gravitate to institutions of trust like churches,schools, Scouting, LDS missions, mentor clubs, and youth ministries?  To paraphrase John Dillinger, that’s where the kids are.   But it’s more than that.  These organizations are trusted in our society.  When a molester gets into the organization as a volunteer or employee, he (usually, but not always a “he”) gains a small part of that trust just by showing up.  Trust is the key to a child molester’s method.  If a child trusts an adult, even a little, that trust can be expanded upon and exploited to move the child down the path of grooming to abuse.

A lot of people are concerned about the stranger in the park with puppies.  And it’s right to be concerned about that.  But the number of stranger-danger assaults pale in comparison to those committed by trusted friends, ministers, volunteer leaders, or even family members.  Child molesters don’t look like misshapen Quasimodoes shuffling around with their pants down.  At least not the successful ones.

Remember the basic rule: if an adult is interested in spending time alone with your child, they should be considered guilty until proven innocent, and you should educate your children to recognize warning signs and get away, then tell you about it.

We have rules in criminal cases in courts of law that say that everyone is presumed innocent.  As a legal matter, that is fine.  But you don’t have to live your life that way, or risk your children’s long term health and safety because of it.