Alleged Sexual Assault Survivor Comes Forward, Claims Fargo Diocese Blamed Her for Abuse
She says Father Michael Wight took advantage of her
FARGO, N.D. — A woman gives an emotional statement about an alleged sexual assault she experienced at a Belcourt church, a place she calls her everything.
“[Father] Michael was my spiritual father. I trusted him even when I didn’t trust him. I just wanted a father who loved me. I never had that,” Kateri Marion said.
She says Father Michael Wight used her vulnerability to take advantage of her three years ago at St. Ann’s Church.
In a lawsuit, Marion’s attorneys say she was targeted because she had a history of being neglected and abused.
“He would tell me I was his beloved daughter everyday he would tell me he hated everyone who abused me, for only him to abuse me himself,” Marion said.
The lawsuit says Father Wight “groomed” her, often making inappropriate physical contact and saying it was acceptable because he was her father.
Marion told someone else with the church, who said Wight lusting after her had been her own fault.
Marion’s attorneys are demanding the Diocese release their list of priests that are known abusers.
“People need to know that. It’s one thing to say are they still in Fargo, which is a good question, but if they’re still in Texas or still in Florida, people should know that. Little kids should know who’s around them,” attorney Michael Bryant said.
The Fargo Diocese says in a statement it contacted police the day they found out about the alleged abuse. Wight was removed from the diocese two days later after police contacted him.
Marion says her attorney is the first person who’s given her the opportunity to share her story.
“I know how hard it is and I know how scary it is, but I stand here before you guys not only for myself but for anyone who’s ever been abused in the church,” Marion said.
The Diocese says they express their deepest apology, prayer, and support to Marion.
But she says this is something she will not “get over.”
“God used to be my everything. That’s all I had in my life, Father Michael Wight stole that from me. By his own actions and his choice,” she said.
Marion’s attorneys say Wight is now working as a janitor at a church in Texas.