Priest of Present Claims Abuse by Priest of Past

By Jane Gargas
Yakima Herald-Republic
September 1, 2004

An allegation of sexual abuse by a former priest has hit home in Yakima and this time it's a priest accusing another priest.

Over the weekend, the Rev. Lawrence Minder told his parishioners at St. Brendan Catholic Church in Bothell that as a teenager three decades ago, he was sexually abused by a priest.

Although Minder didn't name the abuser, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Tuesday that Minder had lodged a complaint against a former priest who ministered in Yakima.

The newspaper identified the priest as the Rev. Richard Scully, identified earlier this year as one of six clerics from the Catholic Diocese of Yakima accused of abuse.

Reached in his Yakima law office Tuesday, Russell Mazzola, chair of the Diocesan Lay Advisory Board, confirmed that Minder, 43, told the Yakima Diocese that he was abused by Scully.

Mazzola said Bishop Carlos Sevilla apprised the lay committee more than a year ago that Minder had alleged the abuse.

Scully served in Yakima from 1978-81 and again from 1983-85, both times at St. Paul Cathedral.

Bishop Sevilla said through a spokeswoman Tuesday that all he knows about the incident is what he read in the Post-Intelligencer and would have no comment.

Mazzola said he wasn't sure where or when the alleged abuse may have occurred.

"I'm not even certain that Scully was a priest at the time," said Mazzola, noting that Scully may have been in training then.

It also wasn't clear when Minder reported the allegations.

Minder told Bothell churchgoers over the weekend that the perpetrator wasn't removed from his post at the time he reported the abuse.

Sometime during the mid- to late 1980s, Scully reportedly left Yakima for treatment as a sexual offender.

The bishop of the Spokane Diocese, William Skylstad who was Yakima's bishop from 1977-90 removed Scully from his ministry in the Yakima Diocese and sent him for treatment, according to the Rev. Steven Dublinski, vicar general in Spokane.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the Amarillo, Texas, Diocese hired Scully in 1989 after he received treatment at a facility in Jemez Springs, N.M., for sexual offenders.

The Yakima Diocese later settled two claims filed against Scully, the Dallas newspaper said. Mazzola confirmed at least one settlement against the priest.

Last February, Bishop Sevilla reported that Scully was among six clergy members from the diocese accused of sexual abuse since 1950 and was no longer in the priesthood.

According to the Dallas newspaper, Scully was granted a medical retirement in June 2002, a week before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Dallas to devise a policy on clergy sexual abuse.

Lawrence Minder and his brother Kevin, also a priest, grew up in the Tri-Cities. Richland and Kennewick are part of the Yakima Diocese, while Pasco is in Spokane's.

The Yakima Diocese has no record of Scully serving in the Tri-Cities, and Dublinski said Scully never worked in the Spokane Diocese.

Mazzola said that he wasn't sure if Scully was sent for treatment in New Mexico before or after Minder made his allegations.

The Foundation House Community Servants of the Paraclete, a Catholic ministry that offers sexual treatment programs for priests and other Catholic clerics, is in Jemez Springs.

Phone messages left at the facility to determine if Scully received treatment there and if so, for how long were not returned.

Mazzola noted that 20 or 30 years ago, it wasn't uncommon to assume that people could change sexual behavior patterns with treatment.

After the Bishops Conference of 2002, however, the philosophy of treatment toward sexual predatory behavior changed. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People laid out guidelines for removing offending priests.

"If anything came out of that conference, it was the idea that a person would not be put back in a setting where he would be in contact (with vulnerable people) again," explained Mazzola.

Minder's future with the church was left in doubt after his weekend revelations. He told parishioners that the Archdiocese of Seattle had asked him to undergo a psychological assessment, but he has refused. He also said he plans to resign.

A spokesperson at St. Brendan's Catholic Church in Bothell said Tuesday that Minder was out of town, and she couldn't say if he intended to leave the priesthood or just his post at the church.

Minder came into prominence several months ago when he was instrumental in setting up a tent city in Bothell for homeless people.


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