Archdiocese, Jesuits Settle Abuse Lawsuits
By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times [Washington]
November 23, 2006
Settlements have been reached in several cases involving sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests or brothers.
The Jesuit order in the Northwest has settled a lawsuit against the Rev. Michael Toulouse, a Jesuit priest who taught at Seattle University from about 1950 to 1976. Toulouse died in 1976.
The lawsuit was filed in 2005 by a man who accused Toulouse of molesting him in the Jesuit residence at the school in 1968 when he was 12 years old.
The case was settled Monday for $350,000.
The Very Rev. John Whitney, head of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesuits, said, "We admitted the allegation from the very beginning. I said I believed the survivor suffered what he had talked about. Litigation was about just compensation."
A major issue in the case was whether the province had known before 1968 that Toulouse was a danger to children. Whitney had said earlier that the province didn't know of allegations against Toulouse until about the early 1990s.
But documents unearthed during the course of the case showed some priests in the province — though not necessarily any living ones — had known since at least 1951 that Toulouse had had sexual contact with a minor.
Whitney said he was glad a settlement was reached not just because the matter was scheduled to go to trial in December but because "this man clearly suffered something. I hope this can be a step toward healing."
Plaintiff's attorney Michael Pfau said he plans to file several more lawsuits against the Oregon Province on behalf of five to eight others claiming abuse by Toulouse.
There are about 30 to 50 pending claims against priests who are or were with the Oregon Province, which covers Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
The Seattle Archdiocese also has reached settlements in some of its cases.
Three cases claiming abuse by the Rev. James McGreal were settled last week for $1.25 million. Previous suits against McGreal have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements and the Vatican has permanently barred him from ministry.
And three cases against the Seattle Archdiocese and the Christian Brothers order were settled earlier this year.
Those lawsuits claimed abuses at the Christian Brothers-run Briscoe Memorial School in Kent, which closed in 1970.
Two cases settled for $100,000 each. Another case settled for $825,000 and included abuse allegations against a Christian Brother who worked at Briscoe and against the Rev. Edmund Boyle, a priest of the Seattle Archdiocese who is now deceased. The Seattle Archdiocese and Christian Brothers both contributed to each of the three settlements.
There are four lawsuits, involving more than 30 plaintiffs, still pending that claim abuses at Briscoe. Aside from the Briscoe cases, the Seattle Archdiocese currently faces 16 claims, according to church attorney Michael Patterson.
Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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