Seattle Archdiocese Pays $7 Million to Settle Child Sexual Abuse Claims

The Seattle Archdiocese recently settled sex abuse claims brought by six men who said priests sexually abused them when the men were children. The Archdiocese agreed to pay a total of close to $7 million for all claims.

All of the accused priests were identified on the Seattle Archdiocese’s list of credibly accused priests and clergy published in January 2016. They are Theodore Marmo, James McGreal, Paul Conn, John Forrester, Thomas Pitsch and Michael Cody, some of the most infamous child molesters in the history of the Archdiocese.

The six men each claim they were groomed, sexually exploited, and abused as children decades ago by priests assigned to churches and schools throughout western Washington. The men also alleged that the Archdiocese failed to protect them from abusive priests despite knowing the priests were a danger to children.

The abuse happened 30 to 60 years ago. The six men allege that they were abused under the following circumstances:

  • Malmo was a supervisor of the Seattle Archdiocese’s seminary studies program at John F. Kennedy High School in Burien, Washington when he groomed and abused one of the six men in the 1980s.
  • Fathers McGreal and Conn were both assigned to Queen of Angels Parish in Port Angeles when they abused one of the men in the mid-1980s.
  • Another man was abuse by Fr. Forrester in the late 1970s when Forrester was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Burien.
  • One man was sexually abused by Fr. Cody in the early 1960s while he was a parishioner at Holy Family Parish in Seattle.
  • Another man was molested by Fr. Marmo, after the priest befriended his family at a Catholic church in Everett.
  • The sixth man said Fr. Pitsch started abusing him at St. Patrick Parish in Tacoma when the man was just eight years old.

The Archdiocese said in a statement that it admitted no wrongdoing but attempted to arrive at “fair and just settlements” to assist the victims with healing and to achieve some measure of closure.

As with other Catholic sexual abuse cases, some of these recently settled claims used information contained in the accused priests’ “secret files” — confidential personnel records that Catholic dioceses keep on clergy members. The Seattle Archdiocese turned over some of these records in the lawsuits.

Roman Catholic Canon Law directs bishops to keep certain records on accused priests confidential. These “secret archives” often disclose a wider, hidden cover up of clergy sexual abuse in a diocese dating back decades. These files can include internal correspondence, performance reviews, and other records that show how top officials within an archdiocese knew certain priests were sexually dangerous, but moved offenders from parish to parish to hide their crimes.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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