Father Maurice Grammond — Oregon’s Serial Child Sex Predator

We recently filed the latest in a long string of claims against the Portland Archdiocese on behalf of an adult who was sexually abused as a young boy by Fr. Maurice Grammond. Grammond, who spent most of his years as a priest in Seaside, Oregon, has the reputation as Oregon’s most notorious pedophile.

It didn’t take long after Maurice Grammond’s priestly ordination in 1950 for the Oregon priest to gain a reputation for showing a troubling attention toward children. The Church documented complaints to church authorities concerning Grammond as early as 1957. These complaints didn’t come from just one or two parents. Many concerned parents contacted the bishop about Grammond. In 1969, a fellow priest drove to the chancery himself to deliver a complaint about Father Grammond, but the Archdiocese took no action to remove Fr. Grammond from the priesthood or even from ministering to children.

His assignment record is remarkable for the number of assignments he received that involved children. He served as a prefect of discipline, he taught Latin and religion, he was a physical education teacher for high school boys and upper grade school boys, he directed a teenage club, and he coached high school and grade school football and basketball teams. Apart from his stint in the church tribunal (marriage court) from 1958-61 and his two “sick leaves” (1966 and 1986-88), he spent his entire priesthood working with children, in spite of numerous complaints from parents and a fellow priest that he was a sexual risk to these very kids.

Maurice Grammond served in seven Oregon parishes and two orphanages run by the Archdiocese of Portland. He served in Portland at the Assumption and Our Lady of Sorrows churches. But it was in his rural congregations that he did the most harm, serving in the small towns of Sublimity, Mill City, Verboort, Dexter, Oakridge and, in his last and longest assignment, at Our Lady of Victory Church in Seaside, a block from the beach.

In 2005, a mother of one of Grammond’s victims wrote a letter that was published in the US Catholic magazine.  Here are some of the excerpts:

I have wondered where I went wrong. Why did I fail to protect my son from the horrific abuse he suffered for more than four years?

We always warned our children of “stranger danger,” but it never occurred to us to tell our son to beware of our pastor. Father Maurice Grammond started sexually abusing young boys shortly after his ordination. When parents complained to the archdiocese, he was moved to another parish. Thus began a long history of abuse and cover-up. Grammond was allowed to serve in our parish in Seaside, Oregon for 19 years despite reports to the archdiocese of which our parish was unaware. When our son Peter was 10 years old, he became an altar boy. It wasn’t long after he began his training that he was raped. Grammond told him he would be killed if he told. I am still haunted by the fact that I saw the blood in Peter’s underpants in the laundry. When I asked him about it, he said he hurt himself on his bike. Peter remembers coming home that day and seeing his dad reading the paper at the kitchen table. He felt such shame and guilt that he couldn’t talk to him. The rape and torture he endured was the first of many Grammond inflicted on him. When, as an adult, Peter revealed to me the horrific abuse he had suffered, I didn’t know where to turn. I also saw the suffering among our good priests. I even wrote a published letter in their defense. I sought out another mother whose sons were victimized. She and I have been our own support group as none was organized by the archdiocese. 

We buried Peter on March 3. He was one of many who have committed suicide because of sexual abuse by a priest. He could no longer live with his terrible memories. Though Peter received a financial settlement, it did not include ongoing medical care. He died owing $24,000 for treatment.

At least 54 men have come forward concerning Grammond and his sexual abuse of young boys.

The utter destruction this one man wrought is indescribable. He ruined the lives of families and scarred the community of Seaside and the other towns where he served. If the Archdiocese had acted upon the first complaint in 1957, decades of abuse could have been prevented, and the devastating aftermath avoided.

 

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, California, and other states.

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