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Second Person Comes Forward In Alleged Priest Abuse Case

Apr 11, 2002 |

A second person has stepped forward and says he was molested by a prominent local priest.

The man from Kent accuses Father John Cornelius of molesting him decades ago.

Rick Barquet says the abuse happened when he was just 14 years old, and that Father Cornelius befriended him, and took advantage of his position of power.

"I was more in shock that he was doing it to me," Barquet said. "This man bought me a scholarship to go to Kennedy, paid me to do nothing, basically, he used to let me drive his car around, he was like a God to me."

For 24 years, no one believed Barquet. He was an altar boy at Immaculate Conception Church in Seattle. He looked up to parish priest who took an interest in him. Until one day, when he and a cousin were working at the rectory, and Father Cornelius asked him to come into a back bedroom.

"He just grabbed me and threw me down on the bed," Barquet said. "I was kinda fighting with him when he rolled me over and laid on my back, and I was face down. He then stretched out my arms with his arms."

Barquet says his parents, both devout Catholics, didn't believe him when he told them what happened. He thought it was his fault, and lost faith in the church and in authority figures, and made the next 10 years of his life hell.

Father Cornelius spent nearly 20 years at the Seattle parish and is still loved by its parishioners.

He's not granting interviews, but through the Archdiocese, is denying all charges.

Thursday, the Seattle Archdiocese released a brief statement, that read: "We continue to be saddened when we hear of new allegations, but we must push through our grief and continue to provide pastoral car to those who have been victimized."

But now Barquet has learned another man is accusing Father Cornelius of similar abuse, also back in the 1970s. So for the first time, Barquet is speaking openly, hoping to be believed this time, hoping to keep other boys safe.

"I forgive him, Father John. I just not going to let him get away and keep letting him do what he's doing," Barquet said. "I have to make this public and do whatever's necessary to stop him from hurting children."

The Seattle Archdiocese placed Father Cornelius on administrative leave on Tuesday after the first allegation of sexual misconduct surfaced. The Archdiocese promises a full investigation.

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