Oregon Man Files Fourth Suit against Clergyman

By Ray Rivera
The Seattle Times
August 10, 2002

An Oregon man sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle and the Rev. James McGreal yesterday, alleging the retired priest molested him in 1981 during a weekend visit intended to teach the then-12-year-old about "priestly life."

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages and accuses the Seattle Archdiocese of not taking action for years despite having overwhelming evidence that McGreal was a sexual predator.

It was the fourth suit to be filed against McGreal since May, all in King County, on behalf of 16 alleged victims.

Bill Gallant, spokesman for the archdiocese, did not return phone calls yesterday. The archdiocese, however, generally says it will not discuss open litigation out of fairness to all parties. McGreal, 79, is believed to be living in an elder-care home in St. Louis. Attempts to reach him have been unsuccessful.

The plaintiff, [redacted], said yesterday that McGreal was a frequent visitor to his family's home in the small, predominantly Catholic farming community of [redacted], Ore., outside Portland. Through his friendship with the local pastor, McGreal became close to the deeply religious family, [redacted] said.

During one such visit, McGreal persuaded [redacted]'s parents to let the boy spend the weekend with him in the Seattle area on the pretext that he would teach him about priestly life, [redacted] said.

For [redacted], who at 12 was already set on being a priest, it was an easy sell, he said.

But throughout the weekend, the priest fondled [redacted], kissed him, climbed into bed with him and tried to go further but [redacted] managed to push him away, he claims.

"He had a very soft approach, so it didn't feel like he was forcing himself on you," [redacted] said.

"And he would say, 'Does that feel good?' I remember him saying that over and over again."

The sexual molestations occurred in McGreal's living quarters, at a local drive-in theater and at a Seattle-area motel, the lawsuit contends.

[redacted] said he abandoned his hopes of being a priest after that weekend. And he said he never told anyone what happened until earlier this year when he saw other victims telling their stories in the news media. That's when he decided to come forward.

"I deeply appreciated all those people coming forward, and I wanted to continue that, because I know there are other people out there," said [redacted], an operations manager who lives with his wife and two children in a Portland suburb.

[redacted], who is undergoing counseling, said he has had difficulty trusting people and forming intimate relationships as a result of the abuse. He said he's still discovering the full effects.

The lawsuit was filed by Bellevue attorney Timothy Kosnoff, who last year won a $3 million sexual-abuse settlement against the Mormon Church.

McGreal, ordained in 1948, served in several parishes and two hospitals during his 40-year tenure.

He resigned in 1988 after sexual-abuse allegations were made public. He has never been charged with a crime.

A lawsuit filed by another victim in Clallam County in 1994 was settled; the terms were not disclosed.

Seven lawsuits are pending against the Seattle Archdiocese over allegations of sexual abuse of minors from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. The lawsuits name the Revs. McGreal, John Cornelius, Barry Ashwell and Jack Marsh. All but Ashwell, who is on administrative leave from his Pierce County parish, have left the active ministry.


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