Seattle Archdiocese Posts List of 77 Accused of Child Sex Abuse
By Jennifer Sullivan
January 15, 2016
|St. Edward’s Seminary in Kenmore was one of the sites where offenders were assigned, according to the Archdiocese of Seattle. (Jim Bates / The Seattle Times, 2009)|
The Archdiocese of Seattle on Friday published a list of priests, brothers, nuns and deacons accused of sexually assaulting children while serving or living in Western Washington.
The Archdiocese of Seattle on Friday published a list of clergy and others accused of sexually assaulting children while serving or living in Western Washington.
The 77 individuals whose names were published on the archdiocese website “have allegations that are either admitted, established or determined to be credible,” the archdiocese wrote in a news release.
Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain apologized for the abuse.
“I express my deepest apologies for the actions of those who were in positions of trust and who violated that sacred trust by abusing the vulnerable in their care,” Sartain said.
Included in the list of names are clergy and religious officials who served or lived in Western Washington between 1923 and 2008. Among them are 30 archdiocesan priests (ordained into the service of a particular diocese or archdiocese) and 16 priests belonging to religious orders, 14 religious brothers, one nun, two deacons and 14 priests from other dioceses, the archdiocese wrote in the news release.
At least 40 of the accused — more than half the list — are dead, according to the archdiocese. Fifteen others are living but are no longer priests, and the whereabouts for 14 others are unknown, the archdiocese said.
Six of the offenders who remain priests are described as being in “permanent prayer and penance,” meaning they’ve been removed from all public ministry and asked to pray for healing and to do penance on behalf of those abused.
Some of the offenders, including current priests and those who’ve been removed from the priesthood, may continue to receive financial support, including pensions and health-care benefits, from the church, the archdiocese acknowledged.
Mary Dispenza, Northwest director for SNAP — the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests — said Friday the archdiocese’s release of the names is a positive step.
“Any time a predator’s name is publicized, kids are safer,” Dispenza said. “So that’s a positive. However, this is very late in coming.”
Such public actions typically have been undertaken elsewhere — in about 30 other archdioceses — due to unseen legal wrangling or outside pressure, Dispenza noted.
“It’s questionable even why Bishop Sartain has taken this action at this moment,” she said. “It’s difficult to know how genuine this step is.”
Recommended in 2004
Mike McKay, the former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, said publicizing the names of offender priests was but one recommendation he and other members of the Archdiocese’s Case Review Board made to then-Archbishop Alexander Brunett in 2004.
“This was one of our many recommendations,” McKay said Friday. “So, we’re glad that the archbishop now is finally doing this, but there are a lot of things they need to be doing, too.”
Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said the list has been in the works for about two years.
“In early 2014 we brought in a private consultant, a former FBI agent who does this kind of work; she came in with an associate and was given full access to our files. It took about 1,000 staff hours to put it together,” Magnoni said.
Magnoni said that after Archbishop Sartain was installed in December 2010 he began regular meetings with the Archdiocesan Review Board, “a confidential consultative body that advises the Archbishop regarding his responsibilities related to clergy sexual abuse of minors and assisting him in assessing allegations and fitness for ministry,” according to the Archdiocese of Seattle website.
Magnoni explained that it took between early 2011 to the end of 2013 to get the Archdiocesan Review Board and the archbishop to meet several times and come up with the plan to proceed with the disclosure of the names.
Magnoni said it was a struggle for the archdiocese to track down records on all 77 people named in Friday’s news release.
“Nearly half are deceased, so there’s no way for that individual to defend themselves or to go to those individuals. It was a painstaking process,” Magnoni said. “We wanted to do the right thing and we wanted to make sure we did the right thing in the right way.”
Magnoni said the release of the names was not a condition of any type of legal settlement.
The archdiocese says anyone who has knowledge of sexual abuse or misconduct by a member of the clergy, an employee or volunteer of the Archdiocese of Seattle is urged to call 1-800-446- 7762.
Sexual abuse victims sometimes bury their abuse for years before revealing it, Dispenza said.
“I myself was 7 when a priest in Los Angeles abused me, but I buried it until the age of 52,” Dispenza said. “There’s so much shame around sexual abuse in general, then to be abused by someone who supposedly represents God.”
A call to reveal more
Many of the names released Friday already had been publicized in news accounts and elsewhere. For instance, the website www.bishopaccounability.org, which documents Catholic church abuse cases, identifies 19 of 33 archdiocesan priests named on the list.
Michael Pfau, a Seattle attorney whose firm has handled about 150 cases of sexual abuse against the Seattle Archdiocese over the past 15 years, noted he recognized a number of names.
“But the list is longer and broader than we had originally known about in terms of numbers,” he said.
Still, the archdiocese needs to reveal more, Pfau said — including making public its personnel files and “secret archives” about sexual abuse kept hidden for years.
“This is a long-overdue first step toward transparency,” Pfau said. “But I would urge the archdiocese, on behalf of all victims that have come forward and those who have not, to release these files on their priests.”
Pfau also noted that the list does not include names of teachers and other archdiocesan employees known to sexually abuse children. For instance, Pfau’s firm won a multimillion-dollar jury verdict on behalf a client who was sexually abused for years in the early 1960s at St. Benedict School in Wallingford by a teacher named Daniel Adamson. His name is not on the list published Friday.
“The list should probably include all employees of the archdiocese who have molested children,” Pfau said.
Where are they now?
Dispenza added the archdiocese should go further by publicizing the whereabouts of the listed offenders and taking harsher action against those offenders who remain in the priesthood, including defrocking them.
In a Q&A fact sheet posted to its website Friday, the Seattle Archdiocese noted if an allegation of sex abuse “has a semblance of truth,” church officials now notify law enforcement and the accused is placed on administrative leave. The church may also conduct its own investigation after the criminal probe concludes.
“If the allegation is determined to be credible, the accused is removed permanently from ministry,” the fact sheet said. “If the accused is a priest, he is placed on permanent prayer and penance or laicized in a process through the Vatican.”
Laicizing involves removing a priest or deacon from the clerical state and returning his or her status to that of a layperson.
Since the late 1980s, the Seattle Archdiocese said it has paid about $74 million in settlements for 392 claims of sexual abuse of minors. It also has paid about $580,000 in counseling for victims and family members over the last 10 years.
“In addition, in every case, the archbishop offers a pastoral meeting to apologize on behalf of the church and to assist in the healing process,” the fact sheet said.