Thomas Euteneuer Exorcism Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse During Religious Rite In Virginia

WASHINGTON -- A priest who resigned his position as head of a Virginia-based anti-abortion rights group amid a sex scandal is now accused of sexually abusing a Virginia woman in the course of conducting an exorcism.

In a lawsuit filed in Arlington County Court, a plaintiff identified as "Jane Doe" claims that that her relationship with Thomas Euteneuer began when she signed an "Agreement for spiritual help" in late February 2008.

Euteneur became her "deliverance minister," and "The aforementioned documents included a requirement of 'complete cooperation' and travel to Euteneur's offices at HLI," according to the complaint.

Doe says that Euteneur told her "that her case was 'severe.'"

For two months he touched her "in appropriate ways" in his offices, then in April 2008 told her "that he had received permission from the Diocese to perform the rite of exorcism," Doe says.

On April 11, 2008, she says, "Euteneur began to hug the plaintiff while saying, 'I wish I could go a lot further.' He carried the plaintiff into a guest residence bedroom at HLI and HLIE, laid her on the bed, embraced her, touched her under her bra, and attempted to touch her under her underclothes, which the plaintiff stopped. Euteneur spent the entire night in bed with the plaintiff.

Euteneur is also said to have "on approximately six occasions, directed the Plaintiff to undress; touched and kissed the Plaintiff on all parts of her body; and digitally penetrated the Plaintiff's vagina. In addition, Euteneuer directed the Plaintiff to touch his penis" and "frequently explained full, passionate kisses as 'blowing the Holy Spirit into' her."

The suit claims that these acts were "always paired with deliverance or exorcism sessions which created in the Plaintiff a distorted and damaging belief that exorcism was tied to sexual activity, and sexual activity was necessary to keep her spiritual advisor."

Euteneuer is also said to have hired Doe at the anti-abortion group he then headed, Front Royal, Va.-based Human Life International. Euteneuer stepped down from this group in 2010.

At the time, he released a statement in which he explained that his exorcisms, not his work at the group, were the cause of his departure. He also he also said that his "violations of chastity were limited to one person only, an adult woman," and that the "violations of chastity happened due to human weakness but did not involve the sexual act." This statement is cited in the lawsuit.

Euteneuer has not been named as a defendant in the suit. The defendants are Human Life International and the HLI Endowment Inc., and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, which Doe says in the suit was "responsible for the governance of the Roman Catholic priests practicing within its assigned geographical borders."

Paul Loverde, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington, is also a defendant. Loverde is alleged to have given Euteneuer permission at least once to conduct an exorcism within the Diocese.

Jane Doe is asking for $5,350,000 in damages.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that Euteneuer is still a priest.

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