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3 Sex-Abuse Suits Filed Against Seattle Archdiocese

Jul 12, 2002 | Seattle Times

Three lawsuits were filed yesterday against the Archdiocese of Seattle alleging three priests and a former archdiocese employee sexually abused boys in the 1970s.

The lawsuits, filed in King County Superior Court, name the Revs. John Cornelius, James McGreal and Jack Marsh, none of whom remain in active ministry.

Allegations against all three priests have been made public before.

James Walsh, described in one suit as a former parish employee under Marsh, is also named as a defendant. The suits, filed by Seattle attorney Ted Parry, seek unspecified damages.

The archdiocese, which has two other open lawsuits against it claiming sexual abuse of minors in the 1970s, declined comment on yesterday's filings, saying it was inappropriate to discuss an open proceeding.

The lawsuits contend the archdiocese knew the priests had sexually abusive tendencies but allowed them to continue their ministries.

A prominent pastor in Seattle's Central Area for nearly two decades, Cornelius resigned in May after accusations that he had sexually molested about a dozen boys in the 1970s. The lawsuit against Cornelius was brought on behalf of Rick Barquet, a 38-year-old Kent bus driver who says he was "attacked and sexually abused" at 14 by the priest.

It was the first lawsuit to be filed against Cornelius. In a prepared statement yesterday, his attorney, Anne Bremner, said: "It's our understanding that Father John was cleared of the charges," referring to a 1989 probe by the archdiocese and the Seattle Police Department into the claim. Barquet has contended he was never interviewed by police.

Bremner's statement went on to say that Cornelius "expressed his sorrow" for the hurt and pain caused to those who have come forward with accusations.

McGreal, who served in at least 10 parishes and two hospitals in the archdiocese between 1948 and 1988, resigned in 1988 after parishioners learned of his continued history of sexually molesting boys. He was sued by one victim in Clallam County in 1994. Another suit, filed in May by six former altar boys, is pending in King County.

Recently unsealed court documents also show McGreal's list of victims included an unspecified number of girls.

Yesterday's lawsuit, brought by a 39-year-old King County resident using the initials G.R.P., alleges McGreal began sexually abusing him when he was 12 and continued until he was 16.

McGreal now lives in a care facility in St. Louis.

In the third lawsuit, three brothers who were altar boys under Marsh at St. Anthony's parish in Renton contend he sexually abused them between 1969 and 1973, when they were between the ages of 10 and 16. The men's mother, who claims the lasting damage caused by the sexual abuse "severely harmed" her relationship with her sons, is also a plaintiff. All of the plaintiffs are identified by initials.

The men say Marsh befriended them and often took them fishing and camping. Then, one by one, he began molesting them, they say. The middle brother, 45-year-old S.M.M.S, claims he appealed to another priest for help but the abuse continued. The boy then turned to a parish employee named James Walsh, who instead gave him liquor and sexually abused him as well, according to the suit.

Marsh, now 69, was transferred to a parish in Camas, Clark County, in 1971 and resigned in the late 1980s. He now lives in Seattle. He declined comment yesterday.


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