Talks Fail to Settle Sexual Abuse Claims Against Wash. Roman Catholic Diocese

November 9, 2004

Talks to settle 28 sexual abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane have failed, leaving the possibility the diocese will file for bankruptcy.

The lawsuits all involve allegations against former priest Patrick O’Donnell.

“We could not reach a solution which would provide fairness, justice, and equity for all involved parties,” Bishop William Skylstad said in a statement.

Insurance companies were not willing to pay the demands of the victims, which totaled millions of dollars, Skylstad said. Lawyers for the victims also sought additional millions from the diocese, which it could not pay, Skylstad said.

The amounts were not disclosed because of a confidentiality agreement between the parties.

The mediation efforts in Seattle that broke down this week involved five lawsuits filed by 28 alleged victims of O’Donnell, who has admitted to sexually abusing boys from the time he was in seminary.

Skylstad said the diocese must consider its options. While he did not mention bankruptcy, he said in a letter to parishioners last week that failure of the talks may force the diocese to declare bankruptcy.

The Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., and the Diocese of Tucson filed for bankruptcy protection this year, citing legal costs of sex-abuse cases.

O’Donnell, 62, served as a priest for the Spokane diocese until he was removed from ministry in 1986.

The first of the five lawsuits alleging that the diocese didn’t do enough to protect children from O’Donnell is scheduled for trial Nov. 29.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.