Church settles Snohomish priest’s sex abuse case for $1.7M

Rev. Dennis Champagne served at St. Michael parish from 1979 to 1999. He’s accused of abusing a child.

SNOHOMISH — The Archdiocese of Seattle announced Thursday it has reached a $1.7 million settlement involving a Snohomish priest accused of sexually abusing a child in the 1980s.

The Rev. Dennis Champagne served at St. Michael parish in Snohomish from 1979 to 1999. He was put on administrative leave in 2002, after the archdiocese received a complaint of sexual abuse.

In 2006, he was placed on “permanent prayer and penance,” a penalty by the Roman Catholic Church that removes a priest from public ministry, but stops short of removing his title.

“He is not permitted to administer sacraments, wear clerical attire, or present himself publicly as a priest,” a statement from the archdiocese says. “He is asked to pray for healing and to do penance on behalf of those who have been abused.”

Where or how the alleged abuse took place was not specified. By the time the abuse was reported, it was past the statute of limitations for a criminal investigation, according to the archdiocese. The statement from the archdiocese did not identify who would receive the settlement money.

The agreement was reached through mediation, archdiocese spokeswoman Helen McClenahan wrote in an email.

Champagne served as a parish priest at St. Michael from 1971 to 1979 before being named pastor there. After he left Snohomish, he served at St. John Bosco Parish in Pierce County and Immaculate Conception Parish in Steilacoom, until he was placed on administrative leave in June 2002.

After an investigation, a review board working under the archdiocese made the recommendation to remove Champagne from service. The board’s recommendation went to the archbishop, who forwarded it to the Vatican. The Vatican made the final decision to punish Champagne.

Champagne was among the 16 Snohomish County priests named in a list of Catholic clergy accused of sexually abusing children and teens. The list — released by the Archdiocese of Seattle in 2016 in a step toward further transparency and accountability — identifies priests who have died, who have been defrocked or who are living a life of “permanent prayer and penance.” Those on the list have either admitted to abusing children or the church has found the allegations against them were credible.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Letter
Oak Harbor legal staff quits over ‘compromised’ relationships

The city attorney and the senior assistant city attorney, who is also the public records officer, both resigned.

Work on the light rail trackway will require over two weeks of overnight closures of 236th Street SW near I-5 in Mountlake Terrace. (Sound Transit)
Overnight closures set for 236th Street in Mountlake Terrace

The closure just east of I-5 means a detour for drivers to reach the interstate until Oct. 14.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office released this image of a possible suspect in a homicide at a gas station at 148th Street SW and Highway 99 near Lynnwood. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office) 20210926
Detectives investigate homicide at gas station near Lynnwood

One person was killed and a suspect was at large, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

Zach Graham stands in front of a newly restored Three Fingers Lookout. (Friends of Three Fingers Lookout)
Volunteers give makeover to precarious Three Fingers Lookout

Up high, with cliffs on all sides, the 90-year-old hut got much-needed new windows, shutters and paint.

Marysville man shot in hand during apparent drug robbery

At least two suspects were being sought, and police are seeking surveillance video.

The city of Everett is pursuing changing its municipal code's language to replace gender-specific pronouns with gender neutral words. Instead of his/her the code would use the specific position or title, such as police officer or public works director. (City of Everett)
Everett considers gender-neutral terms for municipal code

References to “he” or “she” could change to title-specific words such as “firefighter” or “police officer.”

Michealob Johnson (left), 25, is accused of killing Jae An at the Food Mart in the 6900 block of Broadway in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Trial begins for man who admitted killing a mini-mart clerk

Michealob Johnson is accused of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2019 stabbing death in Everett.

Driver who died in Everett car crash identified

Thomas Ogden, 43, was driving Tuesday morning on Rucker Avenue at 41st Street when another car crashed into his.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (center) takes a ride on light rail from the Angle Lake Station in Seatac with King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) on Sept. 21, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)
CEO of fast-growing Sound Transit system to step aside

The search will begin soon to replace Peter Rogoff, who leads the multibillion-dollar transportation network.

Most Read