Vatican Bars Priest Accused of Sex Abuse

By Janet I. Tu
The Seattle Times
February 21, 2006

The Vatican has permanently barred from ministry Gerald Moffat, a local priest accused of child sexual abuse.

The decision means Moffat can no longer call himself "father," wear priestly garb or present himself as a priest. It is a step short of defrocking.

Two men had come forward with allegations against Moffat, who most recently served as pastor of St. Hubert Church on Whidbey Island.

One, who has remained anonymous, said in a lawsuit that Moffat molested him when he was about 12 or 13 years old, while the priest was assigned to St. James Cathedral in Seattle.

The other, Jeff Alfieri, committed suicide in 2003 in the parking lot of Holy Family Church in Kirkland.

Moffat's attorney, who could not be reached Monday, said previously that the priest denies the allegations.

Alfieri had said in a lawsuit that Moffat molested him in the early 1970s while the priest was assigned to Holy Family. Alfieri said the priest molested him during church-related trips when he was about 11 to 13 years old.

Alfieri, 43, who had worked as a business agent for Teamsters Local 117, was found by Kirkland police officers in his vehicle in February 2003 with a gunshot wound to his head.

Alfieri's family could not be reached for comment Monday.

Moffat, 74, served as an assistant in several parishes, including St. James Cathedral from 1956 to 1960, and Holy Family from 1972 to 1975. He was pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Snoqualmie from 1980 to 1992, and at St. Hubert Church from 1992 until he was placed on leave in July 2002, after Alfieri came forward.

Moffat's case was one of 13 cases evaluated by the archdiocese's case-review board, which recommends to the archbishop what should be done with accused priests. The archbishop's decision is then forwarded to the Vatican for review.

Both the review board and the archbishop recommended that Moffat be permanently barred from ministry.

Of the 13 cases reviewed by the archdiocese, three were deemed not credible.

Of the remaining 10, the Vatican has decided on eight. It took the most serious step in two cases, forcibly laicizing — or defrocking — John Cornelius and George Barry Ashwell. It granted David Jaeger's request to be laicized, meaning all his priestly ties with the church are severed.

Five others — James Gandrau, David Anthony Linehan, James McGreal, Patrick Desmond McMahon and Moffat — were permanently barred from ministry.

Two cases are awaiting the Vatican's decision.

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or


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