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Archdiocese Settles Abuse Suits

Sep 12, 2003 | AP

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle has agreed to pay $7.87 million to settle 15 sexual abuse cases involving the Rev. James McGreal, a former pastor at several Seattle-area parishes, the archdiocese announced Thursday.

Sixteen men sued McGreal and the archdiocese, accusing McGreal of molesting them as boys and the archdiocese of failing to protect them. One of the men has not agreed to the settlement, archdiocese spokesman George O'Leary said.

The lawsuits said McGreal abused the plaintiffs when they served as altar boys in the 1960s, '70s and early '80s.

Court documents said the archdiocese knew of the sexual molestation allegations against McGreal as early as the late 1960s.

``I deeply regret the pain caused by these events,'' Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett said in a statement. ``Our hearts are with the victims and we will continue to pray and work with them for reconciliation and resolution so that they can move forward with their lives.''

Brunett said the agreement was reached by the archdiocese, its insurance companies and 15 of the victims who took part in mediation talks that began Monday.

``We made good faith efforts to reach agreement on fair and just compensation for all the victims,'' Brunett said. ``We are pleased that in 15 cases, we were able to reach settlement without going to trial.''

Brunett said it was important for the archdiocese to reach the settlement.

``This is a positive step to heal their wounds and restore trust for everyone who has been hurt by these regrettable events,'' he said.

McGreal was ordained in 1948 and served in several parishes and two hospitals in the Seattle area. He resigned in 1988 after sexual-abuse allegations became public. He has never been charged with a crime.

McGreal, now in his late 70s, lives in a locked treatment center for priests in Missouri. He initially was sent to a treatment center in California. His access to the public is restricted.

Although McGreal is still a priest, he cannot wear his collar or robes and cannot administer sacraments, O'Leary said.

Scott Brady, a Bellevue member of SNAP Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called the settlement ``a positive step in addressing all the victims of abuse by the clergy in Seattle.''

Brady commended ``the 16 known victims of McGreal for their courage and persistence in demanding justice,'' and said he hoped their success offers ``a sign to the other victims in Seattle who have come forward. We hope they realize that there is help and support available to them.''

Brunett said the archdiocese's primary concerns were the protection of children and the healing and well being of past victims.

``We have provided resources to victims and worked to restore their trust for the past 15 years and we will continue to fulfill our pastoral obligations in whatever manner is appropriate as long as our help is needed,'' he said

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