Archdiocese of Seattle settles in two clerical sex abuse cases

Seattle Post-Intelligencer/October 2, 2019

By Joel Connelly

The Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle has reached financial settlements in two cases of clergy sex abuse, dating from the 1970s and the 1960s, involving a priest and two brothers already on an abuser list released by the archdiocese.

The archdiocese, St. Benedict's Abbey and the American Cassinese Congregation, on June 17 jointly settled for $225,000 a case stemming for allegations against Fr. John Forrester. Forrester died in 2002.

Forrester, a priest from the Atcheson, Kansas abbey, served during the 1970s as an assistant pastor at All Saints parish in Puyallup. He was removed in 1979 by then-Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen after the archdiocese received an abuse allegation.

On Aug. 20, the Archdiocese of Seattle settled for $250,000 a case involving two Christian Brothers of Ireland, Bro. Frank Delamere and Bro. William Donohue. The two brothers were accused of inappropriate behavior with a student at the now-closed Briscoe School in the early 1960s.

Forrester, Delamere and Donohue were all on a list of 47 clergy, released by the archdiocese in 2016, against whom charges of sexual misconduct were "admitted, established or determined to be credible."

The Archdiocese of Seattle has stressed that allegations of sexual misconduct "peaked" in 1975 and "sharply declined" after that. It has established a website to explain actions it has taken in response since the 1980's. The website is www.protect-seattlearchdiocese.org.

The Seattle diocese has fared better than its neighbors. The Archdiocese of Portland, facing 175 abuse allegations, in 2004 became the first diocese in America to file for bankruptcy protection. It emerged from bankruptcy in 2007 after making a $75 million settlement.

The Diocese of Spokane would also file for bankruptcy in 2004, and later agree to pay $48 million to abuse victims. It faced strong evidence of having passed at least one predator priest from one parish to another. A young victim, and a former victim in his 20s, committed suicide.

The Archdiocese of Seattle has experienced one public scandal in recent years, which cast doubt on its professed policy of transparency.

In 2003, the Archdiocesan Review Board found sufficient evidence that a veteran priest, Fr. Harry Quigg, had sexually abused a 17-year-old boy and had passed him around to other clergy and friends. It termed Quigg's behavior "egregious" and found that he was "unsuitable for the priesthood."

The archdiocese removed Quigg from active priesthood in 2004, but refused a Review Board recommendation that the case be made public. It cited Quigg's privacy and claimed that "the sexual conduct did not involve a minor." The Review Board described the decision as "astonishing."

A decade later, news came out that Quigg had continued to perform baptisms, weddings and funerals. It cause an uproar, and Archbishop J. Peter Sartain held a closed door meeting with parishoners of St. Brigid Church in Seattle.

Quigg was laicized in 2015 and died later that year.

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