7 Accuse Archdiocese of Not Halting Abuse

By Jonathan Martin
Seattle Times
November 24, 2011

Seven men have accused the Seattle Archdiocese and a Catholic order of failing to stop two known sexual molesters from abusing them at O'Dea High School and a church-run orphanage from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Both the alleged abusers, Edward Courtney and G.A. Kealy, named in lawsuits filed Wednesday in King County, were members of the Christian Brothers Catholic order, which is now in bankruptcy because of a flood of sexual-abuse claims worldwide.

Seattle has been a nexus of sexual-abuse claims against the order, which ran a now-closed orphanage in Kent, called Briscoe School, and continues to staff and run the Archdiocese-owned O'Dea High.

Courtney is alleged to have been a prolific abuser, with at least 26 victims represented by Seattle attorney Michael Pfau, who also represents the seven new claimants. Six of those accuse Kealy; one accuses Courtney.

According to the lawsuits, accusations against Courtney dogged him at Christian Brothers-run schools through the 1960s and 1970s in Illinois and Michigan before he was sent to sexual-deviancy treatment. He continued to teach in schools run by Christian Brothers before landing at O'Dea in 1974.

He was sent again for sexual-abuse treatment but returned to O'Dea. After being accused of molesting boys, he was transferred to be the principal at the St. Alphonsus Parish School in Seattle, according to the lawsuit. He was convicted of felony indecent liberties in 1988 while teaching at a public school in Othello.

"What sets this case apart is just how much knowledge the administrators at O'Dea had," said Pfau.

Michael Patterson, the Seattle attorney for the Archdiocese, said his clients had "absolutely no knowledge about any prior issues with Courtney while he was at O'Dea."

Courtney is retired and splits his time between Burien and Hawaii, Pfau said.

G.A. Kealy is accused of molesting four boys at Briscoe School and two at O'Dea between 1956 and 1964. Kealy, an Irishman, was transferred by the Christian Brothers to O'Dea and Briscoe School in the early 1950s, according to the lawsuit.

The Archdiocese also had no prior knowledge of sexual-abuse allegations against Kealy when he was transferred to O'Dea, Patterson said. He died in 1996.

He said it was "probable" that the two lawsuits would be merged with the ongoing bankruptcy claim filed by the Christian Brothers earlier this year in New York. An attorney for Christian Brothers declined to comment.

The Archdiocese has paid about $48 million in settlements, counseling and attorney fees for sexual-abuse complaints by more than 300 people, according to the Archdiocese. All the incidents occurred before 1985, and much of the money has come from insurance.

Information from The Seattle Times archive was included in this report. Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605 or On Twitter @jmartin206.


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