Two Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Filed against Yakima Diocese

By Nicholas K. Geranios
KGW [Yakima WA]
June 14, 2006

Two women sued the Catholic Diocese of Yakima on Tuesday, contending the church failed to protect them from a priest who was a "serial pedophile."

The lawsuits were filed in Yakima County Superior Court by women identified only as F.C. and M.S. They both lived in Zillah, Wash., near Yakima, when the alleged abuse occurred in the 1960s.

The priest named in the lawsuit is the Rev. Michael J. Simpson, who served at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Toppenish. He is deceased.

"The total number of victims are mounting, and another complaint is expected to be filed later this week," said a news release from lawyers Timothy Kosnoff, Yvonne Mattson and Mike Pfau, who have handled many such cases around the state. "Our clients feel the need to tell their story, and feel that they need both an apology from the diocese and compensation from the diocese."

The Diocese of Yakima referred The Associated Press to attorney William Weigand for comment. Weigand was not in his office Tuesday and did not return a telephone message.

Leaders of the Yakima Diocese knew of Simpson's actions and did not stop him, the lawsuits contend.

In response to a previous lawsuit, the diocese has denied such knowledge regarding Simpson.

The lawsuit by F.C. contended that Simpson "used his position of power and trust to physically and sexually abuse children, including F.C.," the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, Simpson fondled F.C., who was 12 years old, in the church rectory and at her family home.

The lawsuit by M.S. contended that she and her sister, R.L., were removed from a religious class at the church, and sexually abused by Simpson. M.S. was 11 or 12 at the time, the lawsuit said.

R.L. filed a lawsuit last year, in which she contended she was raped by Simpson in 1962 when she was 10.

In that lawsuit, lawyers for the Yakima Diocese said the diocese did not know that Simpson was a pedophile at the time the alleged rape occurred.

In February 2004, the Yakima Diocese disclosed that it had spent slightly more than $1 million to settle abuse cases involving a half dozen clergy. Simpson was not among the priests identified then by the diocese.


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