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  Vatican Approves Removal of Another Priest from Seattle Archdiocese

By Gene Johnson
Associated Press State & Local Wire
July 12, 2005

A once-prominent Seattle priest who retired in 2002 has been removed from ministry because of credible child sex abuse allegations against him, Catholic Archbishop Alexander Brunett announced.

No details about the allegations have been made public.

James Gandrau, 72, whose name has not previously surfaced in connection with sex abuse allegations, served as the editor of the Catholic Northwest Progress - the Seattle Archdiocese's newspaper - for nearly two decades, from 1960-77. He was also a close friend of Archbishop Thomas Connolly, who died in 1991.

Brunett said Monday that the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith had approved his decision to remove Gandrau from ministry, making it final. Gandrau is the fifth priest in the archdiocese to be removed from ministry over child sex abuse accusations, Brunett said. Brunett has recommended the removal of five others, but is waiting to hear back from the Vatican on those cases.

Gandrau served five parishes in the archdiocese, beginning in 1958 and ending with his retirement in 2002: St. James Cathedral in Seattle, from 1958-65; St. Mark Parish in Shoreline, 1965-77; as pastor of St. Monica Parish on Mercer Island, 1977-90; as parochial vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Vancouver, 1991; and as pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Seattle, 1991-2002.

"He was a powerful figure among orthodox Catholics as editor of the Progress and a confidante of Archbishop Connolly," said Erin Van Bronkhorst, who edited the newspaper from 1988-92.

A 46-year-old woman settled a claim last year against the archdiocese in which she said Gandrau sexually abused her 30 years ago, said her attorney, Michael Pfau. He added that terms of the settlement are confidential.

Gandrau could not be reached for comment Monday; a telephone number believed to be that of his Port Ludlow home rang busy all afternoon and evening.

His attorney, Thomas Frey, said that Gandrau denies the claims.

"The only comment he's authorized me to release is that this matter involved allegations that are 30 years old and that he categorically denies ever molesting any child," Frey told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "By that, we're talking about any kind of sexual molestation."

Greg Magnoni, a spokesman for the Seattle Archdiocese, did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking further information.

Gandrau was one of 13 priests investigated by the Archdiocesan Case Review Board, created by Brunett in 2003, to review allegations of child sexual abuse by the clergy. The independent panel of judges, lawyers and child sexual abuse experts found allegations against him to be credible, and Brunett recommended he be removed from ministry.

The archdiocese has identified four other priests as having been removed from ministry:

-James McGreal, living in a supervised church facility in Missouri. For 40 years until 1988, he served in 10 Northwest parishes, in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Monroe, Olympia, Renton, Port Angeles and Federal Way. The archdiocese is aware of 40 abuse victims from the 1960s to the mid-1980s, though victims' attorneys say the number could be in the hundreds. Lawsuits against McGreal and the archdiocese have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements.

-David Linehan, served in the Seattle area from 1956 until 1995, when he retired. He taught at St. Edward's Seminary in north suburban Kenmore, and then in seven parishes in Seattle, Vancouver, Burlington, Bellingham and Castle Rock. In Seattle, he served at St. Alphonsus, Christ the King and St. Margaret parishes. Two men accused Linehan of sexual abuse dating back several decades.

-Patrick Desmond McMahon, served in eight parishes, in Seattle, Monroe, Port Townsend, Tacoma and Puyallup from 1960 until he was placed on medical leave in 1990. In Seattle, he served at St. Bernadette, St. Catherine, St. Mark and Holy Family parishes. McMahon was placed on administrative leave in September 2002, when two accusers came forward. He is living in an assisted-living facility in Carlsbad, Calif., where he is monitored monthly by a compliance officer.

-John Cornelius, served in the Seattle Archdiocese from 1975 to 2002 and was defrocked by the Vatican last fall. More than 20 men lodged sexual-assault complaints against him, saying they were abused as children.

 
 

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