Former Human Life International President Father Thomas Euteneuer is accused of abusing a woman employed by the organization, in a lawsuit seeking damages from HLI and its local bishop.

In a statement provided to CNA, Human Life International spokesman Stephen Phelan said that the organization, from which Fr. Euteneuer resigned in August 2010, would "vigorously defend itself" against the "false accusations" of complicity in alleged abuse by its former president.

"To the extent Father Euteneuer has already admitted to engaging in highly inappropriate and gravely sinful conduct with a young adult woman, we can only emphasize that such behavior was never within the scope of his employment with HLI," Phelan said.

The alleged victim worked for Human Life International for two years, during which time she says the priest repeatedly violated physical boundaries.

The anonymous plaintiff, identified as "Jane Doe" in her June 19 lawsuit, is also seeking punitive damages from Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, and from his diocese.

Although Human Life International is located in the Arlington diocese, Fr. Euteneuer was under the authority of Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito of Palm Beach during the time of the alleged abuse. Bishop Barbarito recalled Fr. Euteneuer to the diocese after learning of the accusations against him in 2010.

Fr. Euteneuer is not named as a plantiff in the lawsuit. According to Robert T. Hall, one of her attorneys, the priest and the unnamed woman already agreed on an earlier financial settlement.

In the new lawsuit, "Jane Doe" says she contacted Fr. Euteneuer for spiritual help in February 2008, and later signed an "agreement for spiritual help" making the priest her "deliverance minister."

Her lawsuit states that "between September 11, 2008 through June, 2010, Euteneuer had numerous deliverance sessions with the Plaintiff during which he sexually abused her during working hours and in various rooms at HLI and HLIE headquarters."

In June 2010, nearly two years after the beginning of the alleged abuse, Jane Doe says she "reached the conclusion that her treatment by Euteneuer was … contrary to the dictates of her understanding of Roman Catholic beliefs and practices."  

The plaintiff claims she kept a journal of her time with Fr. Euteneuer, but entrusted it to him for "safekeeping" and later found that he had burned it.

According to the lawsuit, Fr. Euteneuer's actions caused not only severe mental and emotional suffering, but also "the loss of her employment and the ability to obtain gainful employment."

Fr. Euteneuer has already acknowledged his sexual indiscretions, apologizing in January 2011 for making "imprudent decisions with harmful consequences, the worst of which was violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care."