Church Lists Sex Abuse Costs

By Steve Maynard
The News Tribune [Tacoma WA]
April 4, 2003

Seattle WA - Clergy sex abuse complaints against the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle have cost $4.1 million since 1987, the archdiocese reports.

About $2.8 million has been paid to 65 victims of sex abuse by priests in the archdiocese. Another $500,000 covered pastoral care and counseling for victims, and $800,000 went for attorneys' fees, the archdiocese said Wednesday, disclosing the amounts for the first time. All costs have been covered by the archdiocese's insurance program.

There have been no reports of clergy sexually abusing children in the archdiocese since 1987, the year before it added safeguards to protect minors, the archdiocese said.

The archdiocese covers all of Western Washington and has 175 parishes and missions. The figures were released in financial statements with the 2002 archdiocesan annual report. Archdiocese spokeswoman Jackie O'Ryan said the numbers were released because parishioners asked for them.

The cost of clergy sex abuse in the Seattle archdiocese pales when compared with the Archdiocese of Boston, where more than $24 million reportedly has been paid to sex abuse victims.

There are 32 active lawsuits against the Seattle archdiocese involving alleged abuse by priests prior to 1981 - dating back as far as the mid-1950s. The archdiocese said its goal "is to reach reasonable settlements in all remaining cases."

The Seattle archdiocese disclosed in February that 47 priests - including 32 archdiocesan priests - have been accused of sexually abusing children in the archdiocese during the past 50 years. Among the archdiocesan priests, 13 cases - involving priests who are either on administrative leave or retired - are being investigated by the archdiocese's review board.

"The issue has been the cause of great personal anguish," Seattle Archbishop Alex J. Brunett said in a statement.

"The purpose of our pastoral outreach to the victims of clergy abuse is to help them find healing and reconciliation in their lives," Brunett said. "We'll make every effort to provide victims with resources to overcome the burdens they have carried for years - and sometimes decades."

Gwen Caggiano, a Tacoma resident who is pursuing a sex abuse lawsuit against the Seattle archdiocese, said the release of the payment numbers is "a good first step."

"I am still suspicious about the fact there's a lot of things they haven't released - secret files about other priests that might have allegations against them," she said.

Caggiano, 54, says she was 10 years old when she was sexually abused by a priest at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Tacoma. The priest is now retired and living in Arizona.

Caggiano, who is affiliated with the Seattle chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said her case is one of 13 now before the archdiocese's review board.

Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647 (Published 12:30AM, April 4th, 2003)

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