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“Transparency Matters” PCVA Sex Abuse Attorneys Comment on Attorney General’s Investigation of the Catholic Church in Washington

May 9, 2024 | Firm News, Sexual Abuse

After more than 20 years of litigation and hundreds of lawsuits by adults who were sexually abused as children by their priests and other clerics, the Seattle Archdiocese, the Diocese of Yakima, and the Diocese of Spokane are facing a formal investigation by the Attorney General for the State of WashingtonAccording to a statement by the Attorney General, the Seattle Archdiocese has refused to honor subpoenas and the Attorney General will be taking legal action to enforce the subpoenas. 

According to PCVA Partner and Seattle sexual abuse attorney, Michael T. Pfau, the investigation is a significant event:  “My law firm brought some of the first cases against the Seattle Archdiocese in 2002, more than 20 years ago.  Since that time we have represented more than 350 men and women who were sexually abused as children by the priests and other clerics.  We welcome the Attorney General’s investigation if it leads to an understanding of how so many children were allowed to be abused. Any investigation that leads to further transparency concerning the Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis is welcomed by the abuse survivors that I represent.”

PCVA Partner, Jason P. Amala, hopes the Attorney General’s investigation will lead to public disclosure of the Catholic Church’s “secret files” on child sex abuse:  “Like every diocese in the country, the Seattle Archdiocese, the Diocese of Yakima, and the Diocese of Spokane maintained ‘sub secreto’ files on their priests and clerics who sexually abused children.  These “secret files” show each diocese knew for decades that the children of its parishes and schools were being sexually abused, but it did very little, if anything, to protect them.  We know as much because we fought to obtain the Seattle Archdiocese’s files back in 2009, but the trial court ordered them produced under a confidentiality order.”

According to Pfau, disclosure of the Catholic Church’s secret files is critical to helping victims and their families, many of whom still blame themselves:  “Most adults who were sexually abused as children think it was their fault. The same is true of their parents. Knowing how so much abuse was allowed to occur for so many years is important to abuse survivors and all Catholics in Washington. If the Seattle Archdiocese, the Diocese of Yakima, and the Diocese of Spokane are truly sorry, they should disclose their records and be fully transparent.” 

Other Catholic dioceses have voluntarily published their secret files, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Archdiocese of Chicago, two of the largest Catholic dioceses in the country.  Most recently, the Diocese of Rockville Centre agreed to make its files available to victims as part of its on-going bankruptcy proceedings.

Amala believes full disclosure of the secret files is the only way for the Catholic Church in Washington to follow-through on their apologies and their commitment to make sure the children of their parishes and schools are safe:  “I hope this investigation causes the Catholic Church in Washington to rethink its strategy of concealing these records.  The only way to protect today’s children is to study the past and make sure it never happens again. The Catholic Church will never be able to close this painful chapter of its history until these files are publicly released. I don’t know how the Seattle Archdiocese, the Diocese of Yakima, and the Diocese of Spokane can claim they are committed to protecting the children of their parishes and schools until these records are made public. How can anyone trust their current policies and procedures without knowing what problems they are trying to solve?”

In 2004, the Seattle Archdiocese published a list of 9 priests who it concluded had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. In 2015, the Archdiocese updated that list to include 60 priests, 15 religious brothers and sisters, and 2 deacons.  As of March 2023, the Archdiocese’s list had grown to 83 priests and other clerics who it concluded were credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

The full extent of the clergy scandal in Washington will never be known. Pfau said,  “Just one priest, Father McGreal, admitted to molesting hundreds of children. The true number of victims will never be known because most kids never tell and many are dead or unable to come forward. But based on what I know after 20 years of litigation, I believe the number of clergy victims in Washington is likely in the thousands.”

Michael Pfau, Jason Amala, and all our sex abuse lawyers, represent thousands of clergy abuse victims in Washington State and across the country in cases against Catholic dioceses and religious orders. We are willing to go the distance for you and take your case to trial if that’s the path you prefer.

We are client centered, trauma informed, and have over 20 years of experience successfully seeking justice against the abuse our community has faced by the Seattle Archdiocese. We aim to protect our community with the same tireless passion and relentless dedication as we have the last 20+ years in the Pacific Northwest.

Reach our Partners directly to seek justice against the Seattle Archdiocese below:
Michael T. Pfau:
Jason Amala: or (206)462-4339 

Read about more our work against Clergy & Priest Sexual Abuse here.

About PCVA Law

PCVA Law is proud to be the leading law firm in Washington State fighting for the rights of sexual abuse survivors of the Seattle clergy, representing more than 200 people who have filed lawsuits against 80+ religious leaders over the last 20+ years.

If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a clergyman or church volunteer, you need an attorney advocate on your side that understands what you’re going through. Our trial attorneys have helped many clients successfully navigate the legal process to recover compensation.

When you’re ready, our lawyers are here to listen and help. Talk to a lawyer for free by completing our online form or calling us at (253) 777-0799 or (206) 462-4334. All conversations are confidential. 

Our Results: 

$9.15M settlement for 8 men sexually abuse in the Seattle Archdiocese
$1.46M Settlement in Two Sex Abuse Lawsuits Against Seattle Archdiocese
$1.1M Settlement Reached in Church of Latter-Day Saints Sex Abuse Lawsuit
$725K Settlement in Sexual Abuse Case Against Seattle Archdiocese

News related to Our Seattle Archdiocese Cases 

Seattle Archdiocese Christian Brothers Reach $7 Million Settlement – Seattle Times  

Seattle Archdiocese Settles Abuse Lawsuits for $12 Million – Seattle Times 

Catholic Church Abuse:  Seattle Archdiocese pays $1.3 Million to Settle Case – Newsweek 

Seattle Archdiocese and Pierce County School District Settle Suit Over Pedophile Priest for $2.45 Million – Seattle Times 

Seattle Archdiocese pays $12 Million to Settle Sex Abuse Claims – Huffpost  

Seattle Archdiocese Settles Molestation Suite for $635,000 – Seattle Times 

Seattle Archdiocese Settles with Local Woman After Molestation Allegation — KIRO 7 

Burlington Woman One of 8 to Receive Settlement from Seattle Archdiocese – Fox 13 Seattle