Abuse at Catholic School Claimed

By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times
April 26, 2003

A 50-year-old Portland man has filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle and the estate of a deceased diocesan priest, alleging long-ago sexual abuse by the priest.

The lawsuit, filed last week in King County Superior Court, accuses the late Rev. Edmund Boyle of molesting the man, identified in the suit as S.H., in the 1960s while S.H. was a student at the now-defunct Briscoe Memorial School for Boys in Kent.

The suit accuses Boyle of first molesting S.H. in 1959 or 1960 when the boy was about 8 or 9 and the priest picked the boy up from home to drive him to Briscoe. According to the suit, Boyle continued to molest S.H. for about 2� years while the boy attended Briscoe, and resumed molesting him in the mid-1960s in California and Las Vegas, where the boy subsequently attended school and Boyle was transferred.

Boyle died in Seattle in 1995, according to the suit.

The suit also accuses the archdiocese of negligence in retaining and failing to adequately supervise Boyle.

An archdiocese representative said it would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit comes amid a number of accusations of abuse - primarily physical - suffered by students decades ago at Briscoe, a former boarding school that served orphans and boys from broken homes. It closed in 1970. Briscoe was owned by the Seattle Archdiocese and run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers, a worldwide Catholic religious order that is headquartered in Rome.

Michael Cafferty, a 56-year-old Shoreline resident, attended and boarded at Briscoe from 1958 to 1961. He said he was beaten at least once a week with straps, broomsticks and fishing poles and sometimes at night was awakened by a brother who asked him sexual questions.

Students were beaten "if we didn't do the dishes right, mop the floors right. Beating was just the norm for them," Cafferty said. "I consider it unforgivable savagery."

Steve Hudziak, a 56-year-old Whidbey Island resident, was a day student at Briscoe from 1957 to 1960. He said he was subject to and saw daily beatings by the brothers, who carried big rubber straps for the purpose. "It was just a daily dose of brutality," he said.

S.H., who filed last week's lawsuit, had also suffered physical abuse while at Briscoe, said his attorney, Mary Fleck.

The Seattle Archdiocese is facing more than 30 lawsuits alleging past sexual abuse.

A review board of primarily lay experts will soon begin to review the cases of 13 diocesan priests who are still alive and have been accused of sexually molesting minors in the past. Those priests are all either retired or on administrative leave.

"The public will be kept informed" of the board's progress and board members hope to complete their work by early fall, said Dennis O'Leary, executive secretary to the review board.

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or


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