Washington Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
While Washington has made some changes to its legislation in order to help survivors of sexual abuse and assault get justice against their abuser, it falls short as compared to other states across the country when it comes to the laws allowing for civil claims against abusers and their institutions. While some of these laws are quite restrictive, experienced lawyers handling sexual abuse claims in Washington are still often able to seek compensation against sexual predators, including clergy members, and the Catholic church.
Below you will find Washington lawsuits news & updates, as well as additional information on Washington’s statute of limitations laws. These laws are important because they dictate how long a lawyer handling Washington sexual assault cases has to file a claim on behalf of a survivor. In addition, we’ve compiled a list of Washington settlements received by sexual abuse and assault survivors and a list of Washington’s ‘credibly’ accused priests released by the dioceses.
Washington Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse & Assault
Washington has made modest changes to its statute of limitation (SOLs) laws with all those changes coming to its criminal SOLs. Washington remains one of the worst states in the country for its civil SOL laws for sexual abuse victims.
Criminal Statute of Limitations Laws for Washington
In 2009, Washington extended the criminal SOLs for all sex offenses to age 28 and then in 2013 raised it to 30. In 2017, it expanded that statute to include commercial sex abuse and also extended the SOL for sex trafficking to 10 years from the crime. In 2019, the criminal SOL for incest was also raised to age 30. In the same year it eliminated the SOL completely for rape, sexual misconduct, child molestation and sexual exploitation. Child USA, who has evaluated every state based on their criminal statute of limitation laws, gave Washington a Criminal SOL score of 3, on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the highest. A score of 3 is defined as a criminal SOL eliminated for felonies only.
Civil Statute of Limitations Laws for Washington
While Washington state has made significant strides in expanding its SOLs laws to help survivors pursue criminal claims against their abusers, no changes have been made to its civil SOL laws for sex abuse victims since 2002. Currently Washington civil SOL is age 21 or 3 years from discovery. “Discovery” allows a person diagnosed with a condition or illness, related to his/her abuse, to have the statute of limitations date start on the date of the diagnosis or when the connection was made between the two. Washington has yet to pass a window to allow victims with expired claims to come forward.
Child USA, who has also evaluated every state based on their civil statute of limitation laws, gave Washington a Civil SOL Age Cap score of 1, on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the highest. A score of 1 is defined as a civil SOL age cap of 25 years old or younger for survivors.
If you or someone you love was sexually abused or assaulted in Washington, contact us now. Due to Washington’s discovery rule and statute of limitations laws, those sexually abused as a minor may still have a claim against their abuser, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Even if the abuser is deceased, you may still have a claim against the organization responsible.
Go to our main sexual abuse page to learn more about the process of filing a priest sexual abuse claim.
Washington Sexual Abuse Settlements & Jury Awards
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Seattle, Spokane and other religious orders and brotherhoods have paid out over $75,000,000 to sexual abuse survivors. Below outlines the timelines of those settlements.
September 2003 – The Archdiocese of Seattle agreed to pay $7,870,000 to compensate 15 sexual abuse victims involving Rev. James McGreal. One of the plaintiffs who was part of the original suit refused to settle, stating he wanted the case to go to trial because he wants to hold the archdiocese accountable. The Vatican decreed permanent suspension in 2004. McGreal died in August of 2011.
December 2004 – The Archdiocese of Seattle settled 12 additional claims of sexual abuse by priests for $1,800,000. Eleven of the twelve claims involved Rev. James McGreal. McGreal allegedly abused at least 40 victims from the 1960s to the mid-1980s which resulted in multimillion settlements paid by the archdiocese. He was also part of the September 2003 settlement listed above. The twelfth claim involved Rev. David Jaeger who admitted to inappropriately touching a minor at a youth camp in 1978. He was voluntarily laicized in November of 2005, died in 2014, but was still buried with full rites.
June 2005 – The Archdiocese of Seattle settled 4 additional claims of sexual abuse for $1,700,000. The claims involved 2 men and 2 woman who were victimized by two priests, Gerald Moffat and Edmund Boyle. One man’s allegation claimed that Moffat molested him in the 1970s during the time he was 11 to 13 years old. In 2003 the man committed suicide in the parking lot of the Holy Family Church in Kirkland where the abuse occurred. His family settled his claim for $600,000. The remaining $1,100,000 was paid to 3 siblings who were abused as children in the 1950s by Boyle while he was working in the St. James Church and school where they attended.
August 2005 – The Archdiocese of Seattle, along with a Kansas religious order, settled a claim for $2,600,000 with 7 men who accused Rev. John Forrester of molesting them as altar boys. The abuse is said to have occurred during camping trips and other outings. Forrester died in 2002 prior to the settlement agreement. He is also listed on the Davenport Iowa Diocese’s list of credibly accused priests.
April 2006 – The Seattle Archdiocese agreed to a settlement of over $1,000,000 to two brothers who accused John Cornelius of repeatedly molesting them during the 1970s when they were teenagers. The lawyers for the brothers pointed out that Cornelius was transferred from Boise to Seattle, with the knowledge that he was a ‘problem’, but no one took any steps to address it. Cornelius was defrocked by the Vatican.
January 2007 – In one of the most controversial settlements, Catholics in the Spokane Washington area were asked to participate in a fundraiser in the amount of $10,000,000 to compensate the sexual abuse victims of the Catholic Church. Unlike other settlements across the country, failure to raise these funds would result of the closing of Catholic churches and schools. The total settlement for nearly 180 victims of clergy sexual abuse, in the amount was $48,000,000, was part of an approved bankruptcy plan for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane. The $48 million was pooled together from insurance policies, parishioner gifts and cash from the sale of church assets and property. Unfortunately, the total amount needed to pay its victims was not properly calculated. The settlement fund was drained early after those in charge allowed some victims to file late claims, without having calculated the cost of those claims in the total. In 2012, parishioners of Spokane parishes were asked to help raise another $1.5 million to cover the church’s debts. Note that the names of the priests included in this settlement were not released.
February 2007 – A $1,900,000 settlement was paid by the Christian Brothers of Ireland and the Seattle Archdiocese to five men who were abused by Edward Courtney in the 1970s while they were O’Dea students.
January 2008 – A $4,800,000 settlement was reached between 16 Native Americans and the Jesuit order of the Northwest to resolve claims against a Jesuit priest and a brother, Rev. John Morse and Brother James Gates. The sexual abuse occurred while they were students, at a now closed boarding school, St. Mary’s Mission and School, on the Colville Indian Reservation near Omak.
January 2009 – The Seattle Archdiocese along with the Congregation of Christian Brothers agreed to pay $7,000,000 to 13 men abused as students at Briscoe Memorial School in Kent in the 1960s. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that there was overwhelming evidence that the school knew there was a problem and that children were being harmed there.
January 2020 – The Archdiocese of Seattle announced a $1.7 million payout to settle a clergy sex abuse claim involving Priest Dennis Champagne related to allegations of sexually abusing a child in the 1980s. Champagne served at St. Michael parish in Snohomish, WA from 1979 to 1999
January 2021 – The Archdiocese of Seattle announced a settlement within the last six months for $2 million to settle clergy sex abuse claims against four priests of which include two former church leaders Rev. Michael C. OBrien and Rev. Dennis Champagne.
*The settlements listed above are offered for educational purposes only and do not guarantee any future outcome or settlement. Each legal situation is different, and past performance does not guarantee future results. We do not maintain that is a full list of all settlements in the state of Washington but merely a grouping of those we choose to share on our website. Please contact us if you would like additional settlements included or if you notice any inaccuracies on our site. We strive to provide our viewers the most up to date and accurate information as possible.
Washington Catholic Dioceses Release Names of Clergy Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of Children
Catholic Dioceses in Washington have released the names of priests and clergy members who they deemed to be ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse of a child.
The lists below will be updated as litigation or investigations are concluded so that new names of credibly accused priests in Washington can be added.
Use the links below to navigate directly to a particular diocese’s clergy list.
- Archdiocese of Seattle Credibly Accused Priest List
- Diocese of Spokane Credibly Accused Priest List
- Diocese of Yakima Credibly Accused Priest List
Archdiocese of Seattle Credibly Accused Priest List
|wdt_ID||Last Name||First Name||Diocese/Order||Clergy Status||Assignments|
|1||Ashwell||Barry||Diocese of Seattle||Laicized||St. Thomas Seminary, Kenmore (1963 to 1969); Sacred Heart, Bellevue (1969 to 1970); St. Pius X, Mountlake Terrace (1970 to 1971); Our Lady Star of the Sea, Bremerton (1971 to 1975); St. Joseph, Vancouver (1975 to 1976); St. Vincent de Paul, Federal Way (1|
|2||Boyle||Edmund||Diocese of Seattle||Deceased||St. James Cathedral, Seattle (1955 to 1964); Out of Archdiocese (1964 to 1979); Mt. St. Vincent, Seattle (1979 to 1984)|
|3||Boyle||Edward||Diocese of Seattle||Deceased|
|4||Champagne||Dennis||Diocese of Seattle||Permanent Prayer and Penance|
|5||Cody||Michael||Diocese of Seattle||Deceased|
|6||Conn||Paul||Diocese of Seattle||Laicized||Queen of Angels, Port Angeles (1985 to 1988); Cornelius, John aka John Cornelius McKenna; Laicized; St. Thomas Seminary, Kenmore (1971 to 1975); St. Therese, Seattle (1975); St. Mary, Seattle (1975 to 1978); Immaculate Conception, Seattle (1978 to 1996);|
|7||Dooley||Jerome||Diocese of Seattle||Deceased|
|8||Duffy||Philip H.||Diocese of Seattle||Deceased||St. James Cathedral, Seattle (1945 to 1947); Superintendent of Schools, Seattle (1947 to 1968); St. Teresa, Seattle (1947 to 1949); St. Peter, Seattle (1949 to 1958); St. Mary, Seattle (1958 to 1968); The Josephinum, Seattle (1968 to 1971)|
|9||Gandrau||James||Diocese of Seattle||Deceased||St. James Cathedral, Seattle (1958 to 1961); St. James Cathedral, Seattle (in residence) (1961 to 1965); St. Mark, Seattle (in residence) (1965 to 1976); St. Monica, Mercer Island (1977 to 1990); Sabbatical, Menlo Park, CA (1990); St. Joseph, Vancouver (1|
|10||Hays||Michael D.||Diocese of Seattle||Laicized||Holy Trinity, Bremerton (1976 to 1980); St. Michael, Olympia (1980 to 1981); Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sedro Woolley (1981 to 1982); Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Bremerton (1982 to 1984); St. Charles, Burlington (1984 to 1985); St. Anne, Seattle (1985 to 19|
Diocese of Spokane Credibly Accused Priest List
|wdt_ID||Last Name||First Name||Clergy Status||Diocese/Order|
|1||Beaver||Reinard||Removed from ministry||Diocese of Spokane|
|2||Boulden||Garry||Removed from ministry||Diocese of Spokane|
|3||Bradley||Theodore||Removed from ministry||Diocese of Spokane|
|4||Knecht||Joseph||Deceased 1959||Diocese of Spokane|
|5||Koltzenberg||Otto||Removed from ministry||Diocese of Spokane|
|6||Mertens||Arthur||Deceased 2011||Diocese of Spokane|
|7||O’Donnell||Patrick||Removed from ministry||Diocese of Spokane|
|8||O’Malley||James||Deceased 2007||Diocese of Spokane|
|9||Oosterman||Bernard (Benno)||Deceased 2011||Diocese of Spokane|
|10||Pineau||Joseph||Deceased 1982||Diocese of Spokane|
Diocese of Yakima Credibly Accused Priest List
|wdt_ID||Last Name||First Name||Diocese/Order||Clergy Status||Assignments|
|1||Breen||Christopher||Diocese of Yakima||Retired, no active ministry||St. Paul's Cathedral, Yakima; Yakima Central High School; St. Peter, Cowiche; Seminary of St. Peter, Cowiche|
|2||Calhoun||Dale||Diocese of Yakima||Permanently removed from priestly ministry||St. Paul Cathedral, Yakima; Holy Family, Yakima; St. Rose of Lima, Ephrata; St. Frances Cabrini, Benton City; St. Joseph, Kennewick|
|3||Davalle||Robert||Diocese of Yakima (deacon)||Permanently removed from diaconal ministry||Christ the King, Richland|
|4||Dolan||Sean||Diocese of Yakima||Deceased||Christ the King, Richland; St. Paul Cathedral, Yakima|
|5||Funari||Paul||Diocese of Yakima||Deceased||St. Aloysius, Toppenish; St. Peter Claver, Wapato|
|6||Gallagher||Brian||Diocese of Yakima||Deceased||St. Pius X, Quincy; St. Paul Cathedral, Yakima; St. Andrew, Ellensburg; Blessed Sacrament, Grandview; Immaculate Conception, Mabton; Immaculate Conception, Roslyn; St. Francis, Chelan; St. Rose, Ephrata; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Benton City|
|7||Gomez||Gustavo||Diocese of Yakima||Permanently removed from priestly ministry||Blessed Sacrament, Grandview; Holy Apostles, East Wenatchee; St. Frances X. Cabrini, Benton City; Our Lady of the Desert, Mattawa; St. Juan Diego, Cowiche; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Granger|
|8||Graaff||Joseph||Diocese of Yakima||Deceased||St. Paul Cathedral, Yakima; St. Joseph , Wenatchee WA; Blessed Sacrament, Grandview; St. Frances, Chelan; St. Joseph, Leavenworth; CYO Camp Field Camp Chaplain, Leavenworth; St. Joseph, Waterville; Holy Apostles, East Wenatchee; Immaculate Conception, Ros|
|9||Hagel||Peter||Diocese of Yakima||Retired, no active ministry||Christ the King, Richland; St. Andrew, Ellensburg; Chaplain, Newman Center at Central Washington University, Ellensburg; St. Frances X. Cabrini, Benton City; St. Paul Cathedral, Yakima|
|10||King||Anthony||Diocese of Yakima||Deceased||Joseph, White Salmon; Christ the King, Richland; St. Catherine, Seattle while studying at Seattle University; Marquette High School, Yakima; St. Pius X, Quincy; Sacred Heart Parish, Prosser; St. Peter Apostle Seminary, Cowiche; St. Peter, Cowiche; Mater C|
Click to view our larger list of accused priests. Here you can search by accused clergy first and last name, Parish/Diocese, city and state, and even by the years of their assignments.
Washington Sexual Abuse Lawsuits: News & Updates
Clergy sexual abuse settlements totaling over $2 million have been reached with Seattle Archdiocese in the past year. Click the headline to read more…
Prominent Seattle Catholics are joining together in asking Archbishop Paul Etienne to disclose information regarding clergy abuse in Washington. Click the headline to read more…
In addition to establishing an independent commission to investigate the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholica church, a group of Catholics in Seattle are also demanding that all records and files related to sexual abuse matters be released by the church and provided to the commission so that a comprehensive report can be created. Click the headline to read more…