6 Men Accuse Seattle Priests of Sexual Abuse
Alleged Incidents Took Place in '70s and '80s, According to Anonymous Suits
By Vanessa Ho
November 26, 2002
Six men filed lawsuits against three priests and the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese yesterday, accusing the priests of sexually abusing them in the 1970s and 1980s and the archdiocese of failing to protect them.
The Revs. John Forrester, Gerald Moffat and John Cornelius are named in the complaints, which were filed anonymously in King County Superior Court.
Most of the men were preteen and teenage altar boys during the alleged abuse. They are now in their 30s and 40s and live in Seattle, Federal Way, California and Arizona.
All of the men accuse the priests of "grooming" them as boys by gaining their trust and admiration, then using threats and promises to make them participate in various sexual acts. They say the archdiocese knew or should have known of the abuse.
"They're seeking damages, pursuant to the law, because they were abused by people who were in positions of trust when they were young," said the men's lawyer, James Rogers.
The damages being sought are unspecified.
Bill Gallant, spokesman for the archdiocese, did not return a call seeking comment about the lawsuits. Generally, the archdiocese does not comment on pending litigation.
Three of the men say Forrester abused them during church functions and overnight trips in the early '70s, when he was at Holy Rosary in West Seattle. One of the men accuses Forrester of molesting him for seven years, between the ages of 7 to 14. Another man says Forrester molested him in the sacristy and during a church-sponsored trip to Rome.
A fourth man accuses Forrester of sexual abuse when the priest was at All Saints parish in Puyallup in the late '70s.
Forrester could not be reached for comment. According to the complaints, he lives in New Mexico.
The fifth lawsuit accuses Moffat of sexually abusing an altar boy for about three years at Holy Family in Kirkland. Moffat is on administrative leave from St. Hubert parish in Langley and could not be reached for comment.
The sixth lawsuit accuses Cornelius of sexually abusing a 14-year- old boy during a church trip to Idaho, when he was a deacon at St. Therese in Seattle and the plaintiff was an altar boy. Cornelius, who is facing another sexual-abuse lawsuit, resigned earlier this year after about a dozen men accused him of sexually abusing them in the 1970s. He could not be reached for comment. According to the complaint, he lives in King County.
Including yesterday's lawsuits, the Seattle archdiocese now faces 15 complaints by 30 plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse by eight priests.P-I reporter Vanessa Ho can be reached at 206-448-8003 or vanessaho�seattlepi.com
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