Bothell Priest Who Said He Was Molested Quits
Archdiocese Not Given Reason for Sudden Resignation

By Michelle Nicolosi
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
September 1, 2004

The Catholic priest who shocked Bothell parishioners this weekend by announcing that he had been sexually abused by a priest resigned yesterday -- but the brief letter of resignation he faxed to the Seattle Archdiocese did not explain why he is quitting so suddenly.

"There was nothing in the letter except he resigned," said archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni. "It's a very concise 'I'm offering my resignation.' "

The Rev. Lawrence Minder told parishioners at three Masses at St. Brendan Catholic Church in Bothell Saturday and Sunday that he was sexually abused by a priest about 30 years ago, witnesses said. He said that despite the fact that he reported the abuse, the alleged abuser was not removed from duty.

He also said that the Seattle Archdiocese had asked him to have a psychological evaluation that would be disclosed to the archdiocese; he said that rather than do that, he planned to resign, witnesses said.

According to Magnoni, one witness reported that Minder also said his history as an abuse victim means he has to be "careful" with his use of alcohol and painkillers.

St. Brendan parishioners said yesterday that they were devastated by the loss of their well-loved priest.

"We wish he was not going to be doing this, but what can we do?" said Shirley Stipek, 77, who has been a parishioner for 48 years. "I think it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt very much" to lose him.

Magnoni said the archdiocese asked Minder at a meeting last week to have a psychological evaluation; he said officials asked that the results be shared with the archdiocese, but Minder objected. Magnoni said that officials ultimately agreed that the records would not have to be shared with the archdiocese.

Magnoni said he can't discuss why the evaluation was requested because it is a personnel matter. He said the archdiocese has not received any sexual abuse allegations against Minder.

He did say the evaluation would have been a thorough assessment of many things, including "any psychological issues, emotional issues, issues related to substances."

The archdiocese has tried to contact Minder, but he has not returned calls, Magnoni said. Officials are getting all their information about the weekend's announcements from witnesses, he said. Minder did not return calls for comment on this story.

"It's so muddled," Magnoni said. "We don't have his reasons for his resignation in his own words. ... Clearly we don't know what his intentions are, which makes it just impossible for us to respond."

The archdiocese has not accepted Minder's resignation and is waiting to hear from him before acting, Magnoni said.

In the meantime, it appears that Minder had long planned to take off the month of September and has lined up replacements to do Mass for him, Magnoni said.

Minder's letter said that he is resigning from his post as pastor of St. Brendan, but it did not say he was giving up his status as a priest or his position as a priest attached to the archdiocese, Magnoni said.

Minder did not name the person who allegedly abused him nor the diocese that handled the claim, but according to two people at the Yakima Diocese, Minder lodged an abuse claim against a priest there.

Minder alleged he was abused by the Rev. Richard Scully as a teen, said attorney Russell Mazzola, chairman of the Yakima Diocese's lay advisory board. Minder wrote to the diocese about the matter in 2003, and it was referred to the lay advisory board, Mazzola said.

It is unclear when Minder originally made his allegation.

The Amarillo Diocese in Texas hired Scully in 1989 after the Yakima Diocese sent him to a facility in Jemez Springs, N.M., that treats sexual offenders. According to The Dallas Morning News, the Yakima Diocese settled two claims filed against Scully. Officials at the Yakima Diocese yesterday said they had no comment.

The Amarillo Diocese stripped Scully of his ministerial powers in the spring of 2002, after receiving some non-abuse-related complaints about him, according to Harold Waldow, a vicar in the diocese.

P-I reporter Michelle Nicolosi can be reached at 206-448-8217


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