When they met in 2008, Euteneuer told the woman that he thought her case was “severe” but that he was sure he could help rid her body of a “demonic infestation” of “unclean spirits,” according to a lawsuit filed in Arlington County Circuit Court.
Over the next two years, the suit alleges, Euteneuer sexually molested the woman repeatedly during purported “exorcism” sessions, often conducted in offices on the Human Life International campus, near Interstate 66 about an hour west of Washington.
The rite of exorcism begins with a priest sprinkling holy water and saying prayers. In some cases, it is described as ending with the subject shaking violently, screaming or speaking in tongues. What the lawsuit alleges goes well beyond the rituals prescribed by the Catholic Church.
“He kissed the corners of her mouth; stroked her legs, breasts and thighs; caressed her face; laid his body on top of hers; and frequently explained full, passionate kisses as ‘blowing the Holy Spirit into’ her,” the lawsuit alleges. Once, at a conference, the suit alleges, Euteneuer invited the woman to his hotel room to “pray over” her, then removed her clothes and assaulted her.
The lawsuit, filed last week in Circuit Court, does not name Euteneuer as a defendant. It seeks $5.3 million in damages from his former employer, HLI, and from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington and its bishop, Paul S. Loverde, who the woman’s attorneys say gave Euteneuer permission to perform the rite.
“He was not authorized to perform an exorcism on this woman. He may have lied to her and said he was, but he was not,” said Michael J. Donohue, a spokesman for the diocese. Donohue said Euteneuer worked for a private company and has never been a priest of the Arlington diocese.
The Arlington diocese already has an exorcist, Donohue said, one of about 50 who perform the solemn rite in Catholic parishes across the country. In 1999, the Vatican formally revised and upheld the practice of exorcism for the first time in nearly 400 years.
Donohue said the Warren County woman — identified in court papers as “Jane Doe” — eventually sought help from the diocese’s victim-assistance office in 2010. After hearing her story, the office reported the allegations to church officials in Palm Beach, Fla., Euteneuer’s home diocese, where he was ordained in 1988.
The Arlington diocese also provided the woman with counseling and spiritual assistance, Donohue said.
Meanwhile, Euteneuer was recalled to Florida to undergo counseling. His “priestly faculties” were removed, meaning that he can no longer perform Mass or other sacraments, according to Dianne Laubert, a spokesman for the Palm Beach diocese.