Catholic Church Abuse: Seattle Archdiocese Pays $1.3 Million to Settle Case

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle has paid out $1.3 million to a man who said he was sexually abused as a child by a teacher who had previously molested children at other schools.

The man, known only as M.R., sued the archdiocese in 2015. He said that he was abused by Edward Courtney, a member of the Christian Brothers religious order, at a public school in Tacoma in 1981 and 1982, the AP reported.

The suit alleged that the archdiocese is liable for M.R.’s abuse as it was aware that Courtney had previously abused children at two Catholic schools in Seattle, but still recommended him for a job at the public school, where he allegedly abused M.R.

Courtney has not been criminally charged in relation to the lawsuit and was not named as a defendant.

M.R.’s attorney, Jason Amala, said that his client was happy with the outcome and had “wanted his day in court so that people could learn what happened.” Amala added that the process had been “very healthy” for M.R., Northwest Public Radio reported.

0926_Seattle_abuse Parents and victims of priest abuse from around the world hold banners reading "Justice" and "Shame" during a demonstration against child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Rome outside the Vatican on October 31, 2010. VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in an August statement that he hoped the settlement would help bring closure to M.R. and help in his healing process.

Another lawsuit filed in 2016 by a plaintiff with the initials D.W. also accuses Courtney of abusing him while at the school. The case is ongoing.

Read more: How the Catholic Church’s hierarchy makes it difficult to punish sexual abusers

Courtney’s name was on a list of 77 priests, brothers, deacons and nuns accused of abusing children published by the Seattle archdiocese in 2016. The list said that Courtney had left ministry and listed his assignments as O’Dea High School in Seattle from 1974-1978; Our Lady of the Lake, a school and parish in Seattle, from 1978-1979; and St. Alphonsus parish and school in West Seattle, 1979-1980.

Courtney would now be in his 80s and his current whereabouts are not known. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2016 that Courtney had sold his home in Seattle in 2013 and had signed a sales document notarized in Honolulu, Hawaii.

M.R. told The News Tribune that the abuse happened when he was 12 years old and a student at Parkland Elementary School. M.R. said that Courtney raped him after the teacher brought him back to his apartment for a milkshake and a shower after playing handball.

M.R. also blamed the Seattle archdiocese for failing to flag up Courtney to authorities, despite previous allegations of abuse. “They didn’t do their job,” he said. “They didn’t protect the kids.”

Thousands of U.S. Catholic priests have been accused of sexual abuse in past decades and several Catholic dioceses have declared bankruptcy due to massive payouts to victims.

One of the biggest episodes of abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church was in Boston, where the case revolved around John Geoghan, a former Catholic priest. Between 1962 and 1995, Geoghan sexually abused approximately 130 people—mostly school age boys—but was kept on as a priest by church officials, who transferred him from parish to parish. He was found guilty of molesting a boy in a swimming pool in 2002 and sent to prison, where he died the following year after an attack by another inmate.

Geoghan’s case was a central element of the 2015 film Spotlight, which focused on the Boston Globe’s coverage of the crisis.

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