Vatican Approves Removal of Priest; Victim Committed Suicide

Associated Press, carried in KGW [Seattle WA]
February 21, 2006

The Vatican has approved the permanent removal from ministry of a priest accused of child sexual abuse by a man who later committed suicide.

The Seattle Archdiocese on Monday announced the action against Gerald Moffat "as a result of sex-related misconduct allegations."

Moffat had been on administrative leave since July 2002, when allegations against him began to surface.

Jeff Alfieri, who publicly accused Moffat of abusing him on church trips when Alfieri was a boy in the 1970s, committed suicide in 2003 in the parking lot of Holy Family Catholic Church in Kirkland, the parish where the abuse occurred.

Last summer, the archdiocese announced a settlement in which it paid $600,000 to Alfieri's beneficiaries.

"I am deeply sorry for harm to any victim of clergy child sexual abuse, and my hope is that this decision will bring resolution, healing and closure for all involved," Archbishop Alex Brunett said Monday in a statement.

Moffat, now 74, served as an assistant in several parishes in the archdiocese, including St. James Cathedral in Seattle from 1956-1960, and Holy Family from 1972-1975. He was pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Snoqualmie from 1980-1992. In 1992, he was named pastor of St. Hubert Church in Langley, where he served until he was placed on administrative leave in July of that year.

Moffat was not immediately reachable for comment.

The archdiocese has paid settlements to nearly 200 people in sex-abuse lawsuits. That includes a $7.9 million agreement reached in September 2003 with 15 victims of the Rev. James McGreal.

Its review board has evaluated 13 cases, including Moffat's. Of those, three were deemed not credible.

Of the remaining 10, the Vatican defrocked John Cornelius, George Barry Ashwell and David Jaeger.

It also permanently barred from ministry McGreal, Moffat, James Gandrau, David Anthony Linehan and Patrick Desmond McMahon.

Two cases are awaiting decision.


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