Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Victim in priest abuse trial settles

Last updated May 18, 2009 7:29 p.m. PT
Victim in Seattle priest abuse trial settles
SEATTLE -- One of two men suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle over sexual abuse by a priest has agreed to a mid-trial settlement.
The other is continuing to press his claims at the trial in King County Superior Court, where former Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen took the stand Monday.
After the settlement was revealed, Judge Paris Kallas cautioned jurors not to draw any conclusions.
The case is the first sex-abuse case to go to trial against the archdiocese, which has settled more than 200 cases out of court and has fewer than 20 claims pending. The men were abused by Patrick O'Donnell, a priest sent to Seattle from Spokane in 1976.
Hunthausen, 87, used a cane and was assisted by archdiocese lawyer Michael Patterson as he walked through the courtroom to the witness stand. He testified that his friend and mentor, Spokane Bishop Bernard Topel, never told him that O'Donnell was a repeat pedophile when he sent the priest to Seattle.
Hunthausen also said he could not explain why he accepted O'Donnell into the archdiocese and allowed him full powers of ministry without the usual documentation required of priests who temporarily move to another diocese. Hunthausen acknowledged he should have done more to check the priest's background.
"It was a breach on my part," Hunthausen said. "It's hard to acknowledge that now. It hurts me."
O'Donnell testified last week and apologized for what he had done.
Timothy Kosnoff, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the settlement was for about $600,000, but he would not say whether that included legal fees or other costs. Patterson said the settlement was for $550,000 and did not include legal fees or expenses.
The settlement and earlier ones from the Spokane Diocese and a religious order that operated the seminary where O'Donnell was trained as a priest mean the man will receive close to $1 million total, Kosnoff said.

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