Ex-Oak Harbor Priest Sued in Sex-Abuse Case

By Claudia Rowe
Seattle Post-Intelligencer [Oak Harbor WA]
July 28, 2005

The Rev. G. Barry Ashwell, who served for more than two decades in Oak Harbor, is the target of a lawsuit filed Monday by three men who claim that he sexually abused them after making their acquaintance at a youth camp, elementary school and church parish between 1970 and 1985.

The Seattle Archdiocese removed Ashwell from the ministry in 2002, several years after earlier abuse allegations against the priest began to surface. An archdiocese representative did not return a call seeking comment about the new claims.

The lawsuit says that Ashwell met one boy at St. Matthew School in Seattle and molested him during the early 1970s.

Another became acquainted with the priest at Camp Blanchette, run by the Catholic Youth Organization, in 1972, and a third encountered Ashwell at St. Augustine's Parish on Whidbey Island between 1984 and 1985.

The priest did not respond to requests for comment but has denied similar accusations in the past. The archdiocese settled a case involving claims against him in 1996 and earlier this year agreed to pay $200,000 to one of the men in the current suit.

That man is now suing Ashwell independently, and the priest's status awaits a final decision from the Vatican.