Clergy sexual abuse cases settled

Two people who alleged they were abused by Roman Catholic priests in the 1950s have settled a pair of lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Seattle for a total of $380,000.

One of the complaints focused on the actions of the Rev. Edward Boyle at Immaculate Conception Parish in Everett. Boyle is now deceased.

The Snohomish County Superior Court lawsuit identified the alleged victim only as M.P. to protect his privacy, said Mary Fleck, the Seattle attorney who handled both cases.

The Everett-born man, who still lives in Western Washington, said he met Boyle in 1956, when he was about 14. He alleged that the abuse continued for 11 years, starting in 1956.

M.P. settled for $270,000.

The second lawsuit was filed in King County by a man identified as J.P., who now lives in Central Washington, Fleck said. It focused on alleged abuse by the Rev. James Knellekan, also deceased, at St. Catherine’s Parish in Seattle.

J.P. settled for $110,000, Fleck said.

There are still about a dozen child sexual abuse lawsuits pending against the archdiocese, spokesman Greg Magnoni said.

“We seek to reach settlement with victims in all cases of clergy abuse, hoping this settlement brings some measure of closure and helps bring healing for the victims involved,” Magnoni said.

He would not speak to whether the archdiocese admitted that the priests committed wrongdoing.

In all such cases, Archbishop Alex Burnett invites abuse victims to meet with him so he can extend a personal apology, Magnoni said.

Fleck said an out-of-court settlement is really in the best interest of all the parties, and it allows her clients to continue with healing.

“It takes a lot of courage for people to come forward and tell their stories about what happened to them,” Fleck said. “At the same time, they realize it will help other people if their stories are told.”

The lawsuit filed in Snohomish County alleged that the archdiocese knew Boyle was a pedophile and failed to supervise the priest.

In her 2005 lawsuit, Fleck alleged that M.P. suffered serious psychological effects as a result of his contact with Boyle, and he’s only recently begun to realize the origin of his problems.

The lawsuit alleged that Boyle groomed the youth by gaining his trust, friendship and admiration.

Over the last few years, the archdiocese has taken steps to combat child abuse, Magnoni said.

“There isn’t a way for us to hide anymore,” he said. He acknowledged that the church had been part of the problem, but said the archdiocese has taken steps to protect children, including a “safe environment” program that includes training for priests, volunteers and youths.

The Archdiocese of Seattle covers all of Western Washington, including 169 parishes and nearly 550,000 Catholics.

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