Victims Blast Seattle Archbishop over Predator Priest

May 8, 2014

In light of the Fr. Harold Quigg scandal, Seattle's Catholic archbishop now says he'll re-examine his “monitoring” policy. But he shouldn't.

It's not his “monitoring” policy that needs fixing. It's his secrecy practice that needs fixing.


For a decade, Seattle kids have been at risk around Fr. Quigg because Archbishop Peter Sartain and his staff hid Fr. Quigg's sexual misdeeds. Now Sartain is deliberately trying to evade responsibility for his own callous secrecy.

Sartain wants us to focus on Fr. Quigg's wearing a Roman collar. Instead, we should focus on Sartain's duplicitousness and recklessness.

Let's be clear: Fr. Quigg broke the law. He molested a teenager (perhaps several). Then, he broke church rules. He's likely still dangerous. He belongs behind bars.

But the most recent offender here is Archbishop Sartain. He broke two serious promises that he has repeatedly made for years – to be honest with his flock about predators and to keep predators away from kids so that kids could be safe. He broke his own archdiocesan abuse policy. He broke the U.S. national bishops' abuse policy. He made it easier for a predator priest to severely hurt more teenagers.

If Seattle Catholic officials hadn't hidden Fr. Quigg's misconduct, he might be in prison now (where it wouldn't matter if he wears a priest's uniform or not). And if Sartain had warned his flock about Fr. Quigg, parents would have kept their children away from him (no matter what he was wearing).

But Sartain, and his predecessor and their staff opted, again, for the old, familiar and irresponsible secrecy that has characterized church officials' actions in clergy sex abuse cases for centuries. They're still opting for that secrecy right now. And kids have suffered and will suffer as a result.

Now Sartain and his staff have been caught. So they desperately want us to fixate on Fr. Quigg's wrongdoing, not on Archbishop Sartain's wrongdoing.

(By the way, few seem to ask “Why is all this all surfacing now?” We strongly suspect it's because 5 weeks ago, we sent this news release to the Seattle media:


Whenever they're caught concealing predators, Catholic officials conveniently blame the alleged “shortcomings” in their policies. That's disingenuous. People, not policies, protected Fr. Quigg and endangered kids. Writing policies won't end secrecy, punishing people will end secrecy. Words on paper don't protect children, decisive discipline protects children.

Just to recap some facts:

In 2004, a Seattle archdiocesan committee found Fr. Harold Francis Quigg “unsuitable for the priesthood” because of credible allegations of his “egregious” sexual abuse of a then-17 year old in Washington. But for a decade, Seattle archdiocesan officials kept the credible accusations against Fr. Quigg hidden from the public and let him stay among unsuspecting parishioners, neighbors, and perhaps even relatives.

Their legalistic and self-serving rationalization was this: at the time of Fr. Quigg's offense, church rules said that 16 year olds were considered adults. (The church's 'age of consent' has since been raised to age 18.) But the archbishop's own abuse panel said it “would have found that there was sufficient evidence to support the allegation that this priest was involved in the sexual abuse of a minor if the current age of consent law (18 years old) was in place at that time of this event.”

But members of this church abuse panel are also to blame for keeping Fr. Quigg's serious sexual misdeeds quiet. They could have and should have shouted from the rooftops to protect kids. But they didn't.

These panel members include Lucy Berliner (of the Harborview Center), Joan Cole Duffell (of the Seattle-based Committee for Children), Deacon Michael Riggio (of the Catholic Seafarer's Center), and Mary Ellen Stone. At least two other Catholic employees - Fr. Michael Tyrrell (who was on that panel) and Dennis O’Leary (the archdiocesan chancellor) knew of Fr. Quigg's predatory misdeeds but also kept silent.

So it's not just Seattle Catholic clerics who should be ashamed of themselves and who should be held accountable. It's complicit lay people who value their chummy relationship with the archbishop more than they value the safety of children who should be held accountable. At the risk of sounding harsh, we hope their refusal to show courage and expose wrongdoing haunts them. And we hope it will prod them to step forward now and expose other church wrongdoing that leaves kids in harm's way.

And what of the other Catholic priests and nuns – not part of the hierarchy or part of this panel - who saw Fr. Quigg presenting himself as a priest when they knew he shouldn't be? Why didn't they speak up and blow the whistle? If they did tell the archbishop, why didn't they insist he publicly disclose Fr. Quigg's sexual misdeeds when church officials continued their irresponsible secrecy?

Parishioners at St. Bridget's Catholic Church, where Fr. Quigg worked, are reportedly upset with Sartain over this scandal. But every member of the archdiocese should be upset. Few of the nation's 6,200 accused and proven predator priests limited their prey to their current parishioners. Any kid in the Seattle area – Catholic or not – could have been assaulted by Fr. Quigg over the past ten years or archdiocesan secrecy.

We believe that Archbishop Sartain and other Seattle Catholic officials have recklessly, callously and selfishly stayed silent, split hairs, deceived parishioners and endangered kids, simply so they could protect their colleague and their reputations. By so doing, they have confirmed what we learned long ago: that despite decades of devastating clergy sex crimes and cover ups, and decades of promises of reform by the church hierarchy, kids are still at risk and predators are still protected in this church.

Fr. Quigg worked in a number of western Washington towns: Everett (St. Mary Magdalen), Mukilteo (St. John the Evangelist), Kirkland (Holy Family), Seattle (St. James Cathedral), Federal Way (St. Vincent de Paul), Bellevue (Sacred Heart), Renton (St. Anthony), Seattle (St. Bridget) and at Paine Air Force Base. In 1988, he was listed in the Official Catholic Directory as being “on special assignment” - a designation that is often used by bishops to conceal abuse related suspensions.

According to a priests' directory, Fr. Quigg retired around 2008. His last known address was 2105 Westlake Ave. N. #402, Seattle WA 98109.

Quigg's photo is available by contacting


According to a Boston-based independent research group called, there are 33 publicly accused Seattle archdiocesan child molesting clerics. SNAP notes that the actual number of Seattle area pedophile priests is likely much higher because lists only those clerics against whom allegations have been lodge in the public domain in civil lawsuits, criminal prosecution or news accounts.

(In just the last few months, several Catholic institutions in Minnesota have voluntarily disclosed lists of predator priests, including the dioceses of Duluth and Crookston and two religious orders: the Crosiers and the Benedictines in Minnesota.)




In closing, we urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups – involving Fr. Quigg or other clerics or – to contact police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing – but call secular officials, not church officials.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is








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