Woman Claims Abuse by Former Priest

By Valerie Hurst
July 3, 2008

[with video]

YAKIMA — Father Frank Duffy was accused of molesting little girls in the Portland Archdiocese before coming to Yakima.

This most recent victim says she was abused here as a vulnerable adult.

Now, a national group that looks out for victims of clergy sexual abuse is calling it another church cover up.

Decades later, a local woman has come forward, saying Father Frank Duffy molested her.

Duffy served as a Jesuit priest in Yakima from 1970 to '89.

"There's nothing in our files to indicate that the Yakima diocese was informed of any problems with Father Duffy..."

We asked Father Robert Siler, spokesman for the Yakima Catholic Diocese, if the diocese knew Duffy held prior allegations of abuse in Portland.

"Criticizing us for what may or may not have happened 40 years ago is difficult to respond to..." Siler says.

But the national support group 'SNAP'- the survivors network of those abused by priests - sent a letter to the local media two months ago, demanding the diocese address the accusations Portland since made public.

A few monhths ago, Bishop Carlos Sevilla admitted he knew former seminarian Juan Gonzalez was under investigation...

SNAP says this is just another pattern of the church covering up for its priests.

"Certainly Bishop Sevilla knew long ago and chose as his colleagues have chosen time and again to keep this a secret," SNAP national director David Clohessy tells Action News.

SNAP says under policy, the diocese should have spoken up about settlements made between the Portland archdiocese and families of children Duffy had apparently molested.

Even if Duffy was deceased.

SNAP calls it 'hairsplitting.'

"Well he wasn't ordained in this diocese, or well he wasn't in this diocese for long..." Clohessy says.

Siler says SNAP never brought their concerns over Duffy to the church.

He says they only went to the media.

"It's difficult to have a dialogue with snap when it seems as though they're mostly interested in publicity..." he says.

Siler says he made an offer to SNAP just last month, saying the bishop would sit down and talk to the group.

He says he hasn't heard back from them.

The diocese says it has not made a settlement with the victim.

The diocese wants anyone who was a victim of sex abuse by the church to contact them.

SNAP also encourages you to call them.

The church's abuse hotline number is 1-888-276-4490.

Clohessy's number at SNAP is 314-566-9790 or 314-645-5915.

Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.