|Marysville Priest Named in Suit
The Suit Alleges the Rev. Horatio Yanez Sexually Harassed a Seminary Student from Mexico Who Was Working with the Parish
By Jim Haley
Herald [Seattle WA]
January 21, 2006
Two former seminarians from Mexico filed a lawsuit Friday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle and a Marysville priest, charging sexual assault and harassment.
The lawsuit, filed in Snohomish County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages, including payment for overtime hours they say they worked and weren't compensated for at St. Mary's Parish in Marysville.
Archbishop Alex Brunett is named as a defendant, as is the Rev. Horatio Yanez of St. Mary's. Yanez is accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault of Jesus Alcazar.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon by the archdiocese, Yanez denied the allegations. He was appointed pastor at St. Mary's in 1998.
The archdiocese investigated the complaints "in accordance with established" procedures when the matter was brought to the church's attention in January 2004, the statement said.
"The Archdiocese of Seattle has been in contact with the seminarians' bishop in Mexico and has offered to mediate the complaints in an effort to resolve the issues," the statement said.
"We are disappointed that they have chosen to take this action, but remain hopeful that a just and fair resolution can be reached," the statement said.
Then a seminary student in Mexico, Alcazar worked at the Marysville parish to fulfill an obligation of service that is required to be ordained a priest.
Alcazar alleged that Yanez continually sent him pornography and links to pornographic Web sites using church e-mail. He also alleged that Yanez took him on a supposed "spiritual retreat" to Oregon in fall 2002 and threatened to sleep with him.
It was during this trip that Alcazar alleges he was touched inappropriately.
On another trip to a convention in California later in 2002, Alcazar said Yanez rented only one room for the two of them, and the seminary student chose to sleep in a hotel lobby, the suit alleges.
Alcazar "did not complain because he needed a letter of recommendation from defendant Yanez if he was to continue his studies to become a priest," the suit says.
A second seminary student, Caesar Rosas, accompanied the priest and Alcazar from California to St. Mary's.
Rosas also is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. The two were moved to St. Benedict Parish in Seattle after the complaint was lodged with the archdiocese in January 2004. Rosas told investigators he had witnessed harassment, the suit says.
Lawyers Becky Roe and Kathy Goater of Seattle and Peter Polito of Bellevue filed the lawsuit. The two seminarians became disillusioned by the experience and have given up their quest to become priests, Polito said.
"Both these young men had a lifelong dream of being priests," he said. "It's emotionally damaging when your lifelong dream and your spiritual vocation is shattered by the very people you entrusted that dream to."
Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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