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Seattle Archbishop Criticized By Sexual Abuse Advisory Panel

SEATTLE -- Six of the 10 members of an advisory panel appointed by Seattle Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett have criticized him for asserting that priests in his jurisdiction are unlikely to molest minors in the future.

The chairman and five other members of the Case Review Board issued a letter Monday that also criticized Brunett for claiming sexual abuse is an old issue that was long ago resolved.

The letter resulted from Brunett's decision to dismiss the panel he convened in April 2003 and to convene another group to review its findings, members said.

"We cannot go into the night silently," said Mike McKay, a former U.S. attorney and one of the board members who signed the letter. "This suggests a lack of diligence that concerns me deeply."

Brunett opposed the board constantly, attempted to moderate criticism in its final report and refused to publish it until the board threatened to quit in protest, McKay said.

The 28-page document was eventually released in October as originally written. It is available online at the Roman Catholic archdiocese's Web site, www.seattlearch.org.

Terrence A Carroll, a retired King County Superior Court judge and chairman of the review panel said Brunett had a "tendency to minimize things" on the issue of child sexual abuse.

"We believe we had no alternative but to make sure the Catholic community and the community at large knew how the events unfolded," Carroll said.

Also signing the letter were Lucy Berliner, a nationally known expert on child sexual abuse; Dr. Ellen McAtee, past president of the Washington State Psychological Association; retired Superior Court Judge Charles Johnson, and criminal psychologist Dr. Robert Wheeler.

Those who did not sign were Dora Krasucki-Alex, a nurse experienced in alcohol and drug addiction issues; Dr. William Lennon, clinical director of Bellevue Counseling Services and a specialist in sexual deviancy therapy; the Rev. John Madigan, who has served in the archdiocese since 1974; and Lynda Robitaille, a professor of canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa.

On Dec. 3, Brunett wrote the panel that more accusations of child molesting were unlikely and that a new policy-making group would consider the board's recommendations next year.

According to the letter from the six board members, the archbishop appeared to be squelching "disagreements or potentially unfavorable analyses of archdiocesan actions."

Greg Magnoni, a spokesman for Brunett, said that despite differences between Brunett and the board, the archbishop believes in constant vigilance against sexual abuse.

"I think he recognizes that we will never be done with the work of providing a safe environment for children," Magnoni said. "The Seattle Archdiocese has kind of set the gold standard for addressing clergy-child sexual abuse from the very beginning."

A key issue has been the naming of seven accused priests.

The board examined accusations against 13 clerics. Three were cleared, two others -- David Linehan and Desmond McMahon -- have been permanently removed from ministry, and a sixth, John Cornelius, was defrocked by the Vatican in September.

All but one of the remaining seven have been named in newspaper accounts, but church officials have yet to decide on acknowledging them despite the board's insistence.

One of the seven recently participated in a public liturgy despite being officially barred from ministry, according to the letter.

"Time matters," Carroll said. "Many victims do not come forward until priests' names are released, and for the good of all the Catholic Church, it's better that these names be revealed.

"I think it would be far better for the whole story to be told and done with, yet we see a continued willingness to drag this thing on."

The archdiocese has paid about $16 million to victims in restitution and therapy, as well as legal fees. On Friday, church officials agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle 12 claims of sexual abuse by priests. Negotiations are continuing on three other claims.

Eleven of the settled cases involved the Rev. James McGreal, who was banned from ministry and lives in a supervised church facility in Missouri.

For 40 years until 1988, McGreal served in 10 Northwest parishes in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Monroe, Olympia, Renton, Port Angeles and Federal Way.

The 12th claim involved the Rev. David Jaeger, who admitted in the mid-1990s that he inappropriately touched a 13-year-old boy at a youth camp in 1978.

Jaeger is on administrative leave. The Vatican is reviewing a decision on whether he should remain in ministry.

Source: KIROTV

 
 

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