Seattle Archdiocese Sets Rules about Sex
By Lee Moriwaki
March 22, 1992
There have been sexual -misconduct scandals in Catholic dioceses from Orlando, Fla., to Lafayette, La., from St. Paul to Seattle.
The Catholic Archdiocese in Seattle grappled with two highly-publicized cases in the late 1980s. It established a policy in 1989 for handling allegations of sexual misconduct by priests, church employees or volunteers.
Those individuals could be placed on administrative leave and be required to undergo an assessment by specialists who evaluate sexual disorders; complaints would be probed by a panel including an attorney, psychiatrist, nuns and clergy.
In 1988, a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Paul Conn, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting six altar boys while he worked as associate pastor at Queen of Angels Church in Port Angeles.
Conn has been released from prison and is no longer working as a priest, said John McCoy, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, which covers Western Washington.
And also in 1988, members of St. Theresa's parish in Federal Way were rocked when they learned that a pedophile priest was housed in their church.
The Rev. James McGreal had been placed by the archdiocese at the church without parish members' knowledge. The congregation was told McGreal had been under close supervision, that he was in a treatment program, that his contact with children had been curtailed, and that he had not been involved in any instances of sexual misconduct during the year he had been there.
But they also learned the priest had had a long history of sexual contacts or attempted contacts with boys, and that for 30 years the information had been kept secret from most people around him. Some church administrators knew, at least by the late 1970s when he entered the first of several treatment programs. He had served in 10 parishes and two hospitals in the Seattle archdiocese.
His past was revealed by a Seattle-area woman who said she had been sexually abused by two relatives, one of whom told her that while he was a teenager he had been abused by McGreal.
McGreal, whose duties at St. Theresa's had been limited to saying Mass and working with adult parishioners, was moved by the archdiocese to a home outside the parish. He is retired.
The Seattle archdiocese's five-page policy on sexual misconduct was established in the aftermath of the McGreal and Conn cases. In addition to placing persons accused of the misconduct on administrative leave, the policy requires the archdiocese to notify appropriate government agencies of child abuse or other criminal accusations.
If sexual abuse is verified, the archbishop or other church superior may limit or prohibit ministry by the individual.
The archdiocese will also provide abuse counseling to the victim, though the offender would be required to reimburse the archdiocese for those expenses.
Clergy and church employees are required to participate in workshops aimed at preventing sexual misconduct and misuse of power and authority.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.