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Archdiocese Sued Again; 8 More People Claim Abuse By Priest

Jul 25, 2002 | Seattle Times

Eight more people sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle yesterday, alleging the Rev. James McGreal had sexually abused them as children. It was the third suit to be filed against McGreal since May, all in King County Superior Court, on behalf of 15 alleged victims.

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 molesting children. A lawsuit filed by another victim in Clallam County in 1994 was settled, and the terms were not disclosed.

Seven of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed yesterday live in Western Washington, and another in Clackamas County, Ore. They filed using their initials to protect their identities. Their claims revolve around McGreal's tenure at St. Michael Church in Olympia, where he was pastor from 1966 to 1971, and Seattle's St. Catherine Church, where he served from 1971 to 1977.

The plaintiffs include former altar boys and students at St. Catherine's school. In addition to sexually assaulting them in the church, rectory and at the school, the plaintiffs say McGreal would often strip down to a jockstrap in front of them, force them into sexual positions and show them pornography, including photos of young boys.

The archdiocese, which generally does not comment on active lawsuits, said yesterday that it would be unfair to victims to discuss pending litigation.

"Anything we might say might prejudice their case or make it look like were trying to deny their claims," archdiocese spokesman Bill Gallant said.

McGreal now lives in a care facility in St. Louis. He could not be reached for comment.

Yesterday's lawsuit was filed by Tacoma attorney Michael Pfau, who also sued McGreal in May on behalf of six former altar boys.

The archdiocese also is facing active lawsuits against the Revs. John Cornelius and Jack Marsh in King County and the Rev. Barry Ashwell in Clark County.

All have left the active ministry except Ashwell, who is on administrative leave from his current parish in Pierce County while the case against him is litigated.

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