Kittitas County Man Claims Abuse by Catholic Priests in the 1970s and ’80s
By Tammy Ayer
April 2, 2019
A man who grew up in Ellensburg and still lives in Kittitas County is suing the Catholic Diocese of Yakima, alleging he was sexually abused by four priests as a boy.
The civil lawsuit filed in Kittitas County on Wednesday alleges that priests Richard Scully, Peter Hagel and Seamus Kerr, along with another unnamed Yakima Diocese priest, repeatedly sexually abused the boy in the 1970s and 1980s at St. Andrews Church and a YMCA building that the diocese previously used for church services.
At least one of the priests — Scully — has been laicized, or defrocked, according to a list of clergy and other church personnel accused of sexually abusing children the Seattle Archdiocese published on its website in January 2016.
Scully’s name is one of three on that list of priests who were associated with Seattle and Yakima. Previously, in Yakima records, Scully was listed as retired, but after leaving Yakima, he moved to Texas and a diocese there laicized him.
“Given what we have learned about the sexual abuse that went on in the Church in Ellensburg, we would not be surprised if other abuse victims came forward,” Seattle attorney Daniel T.L. Fasy said in a news release.
Fasy and Spokane attorney Joseph A. Blumel are representing the victim, referred to in court papers as John Doe. The lawsuit seeks to recover unspecified damages and attorney’s fees from the diocese.
Along with alleging that Doe was abused by the priests, the suit alleges that he was forced to engage in sex acts with other boys.
The abuse began when Doe was 10 years old and attending services at the YMCA building in Ellensburg, first by the unknown priest and then Kerr, the suit alleges. Doe was introduced to Scully and Hagel approximately two years later and their abuse began then, also at the YMCA building, according to court documents.
It continued when Doe began attending services at St. Andrews Church in approximately 1980 or 1981, when it was new, court documents state.
Monsignor Robert Siler, chancellor with the Diocese of Yakima, said while the plaintiff’s name is not listed, given the description, it appears to be a man who previously made a report to the diocese, which has investigated it.
“Our investigation so far is inconclusive,” Siler said. “We have been providing him counseling for probably more than a year now. We have been looking into it.”
There are some concerns, he said. When the plaintiff was interviewed by the diocese’s investigator, he did say he had been abused by more than one priest, Siler noted. “But he was unable to name a single person as an abuser, including one priest with whom he had gotten reacquainted that year,” he said in an email.
“Also, there are inconsistencies in the dates given by the plaintiff in regard to when at least two of the priests were assigned to the parish and when he says he was abused,” Siler added.
The Diocese continues to want to assist the plaintiff, Siler said, but “we do have concerns about the accuracy of his allegations,” he said.