Monday, January 28, 2008

Seattle man files abuse complaint against Catholic Archdiocese

A Seattle man who says a priest and other men in religious authority sexually abused him about 50 years ago filed a complaint Tuesday against the Seattle Roman Catholic Archdiocese and three other entities that operate Catholic schools in Washington.

The man, now in his mid-60s and identified in court documents by the initials T.M., is seeking damages from the archdiocese, Congregation of Christian Brothers, Saint Martin's Abbey and Saint Martin's University.

He said he was abused by at least two Christian Brothers who were teachers, identified as Brother Duffy and another whose name might be Brother Ryan, from about 1955 to 1957 while he was a student at Briscoe Memorial School in Kent.

He also said the late Rev. Leonard Feeney, a teacher, abused him from about 1957 to 1959 while he was a boarding student in the high school program at Saint Martin's College in Lacey.

Briscoe and the high school program each closed more than 30 years ago.

The complaint, filed in King County Superior Court, said the defendants should have known that the alleged abusers were pedophiles and failed to supervise them and their "grooming" activities.

The man said the abuse occurred in various settings, including the private quarters of his alleged perpetrators, school rooms, outdoors and on field trips.

While the archdiocese owned Briscoe, the school was managed and operated by the Christian Brothers, a worldwide order of the Roman Catholic Church, archdiocesan spokesman Greg Magnoni said.

Saint Martin's Abbey operated Saint Martin's College, which became Saint Martin's University in 2005. The high school program closed in 1974, spokeswoman Jennifer Fellinger said.

She said Feeney, a Benedictine monk, died in 1980. Saint Martin's Abbey is part of the Order of Saint Benedict.

Magnoni and Fellinger declined to comment further because they had not seen copies of the complaint.

Dozens of other men have filed suits against the Christian Brothers relating to alleged abuse at Briscoe and O'Dea High School in Seattle, another school operated by the order but owned by the archdiocese.
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