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Boy Scouts, Spokane Diocese Sued For Alleged Sexual Abuse

Oct 20, 2002 | AP A former Boy Scout is suing the organization and Spokane's Roman Catholic Diocese for alleged sex abuse involving former priest Patrick O'Donnell.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court alleges the Boy Scouts of America and the diocese knew that O'Donnell and former scoutmaster George Robey Jr. together preyed on boys.

O'Donnell and Robey each sexually abused the boy and other victims during the early 1970s, the lawsuit contends. The unnamed plaintiff was a young teenager at the time and a member of St. Mary's parish in the Spokane Valley, said attorney John Allison.

Robey, then scoutmaster of Spokane Troop 353, first abused the boy in 1972 and continued the victimization for years, the lawsuit says. It says the boy "was subsequently passed on to (Robey's) co-serial pedophile O'Donnell."

The diocese had assigned O'Donnell to act as a liaison to the Boy Scouts.

Robey committed suicide in 1982.

O'Donnell, who received a psychology license in 1980, has been a psychologist living in Bellevue. But the telephone number for the clinic where he worked appears to have been disconnected, and former patients say he has closed his practice. He could not be reached for comment yesterday, and his attorney did not return calls.

Ten others filed a civil suit earlier in Spokane County Superior Court against O'Donnell and the Diocese of Spokane, accusing O'Donnell of sexually abusing minors in Spokane, Seattle and several towns in Whitman County. That suit also accuses the Spokane Diocese of letting O'Donnell work in one parish after another.

The more recent suit was filed the same day that Spokane Bishop William Skylstad was at the Vatican to learn that Catholic leaders had rejected some elements of the U.S. Catholic Church's new sex-abuse policy.

Skylstad is vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and has been involved in efforts to deal with the sex-abuse crisis.

Skylstad could not be reached for comment on the new lawsuit. Chris Shelby, executive director of the Boy Scouts Inland Northwest Council, said he could not comment.

The new lawsuit contends that O'Donnell, who was an associate pastor at St. Mary's in 1973, molested the plaintiff in the church rectory.

Additionally, an incident happened in a locker-room shower during a weekend Catholic Scout Retreat, the lawsuit says.

"The parish priest and the local scoutmaster were supposed to be the heroes and confidants in these young boys' lives," Allison said. "What happened here is an abuse of trust of the highest degree."

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