Lawsuit Alleges Abuse at St. Louise Parish School

Mar 21, 2023 | Firm News, Sexual Abuse

PCVA attorneys Darrell Cochran and Patrick Brown filed a lawsuit against the Seattle Archdiocese alleging the church exposed children to a known sexual predator while covering up his past abuse.

From approximately 1960 to 1976, the church employed Father Howard Lavelle to run the St. Louise Parish School in Bellevue. Lavelle was appointed to the leadership position despite a chaotic career as a priest, making the choice of leadership especially concerning.

During his time at the school, Lavelle intentionally targeted students with troubled home lives. He singled out the plaintiff while the then nine-year-old was grieving the death of his sister. What followed was two years of repeated abuse by Lavelle. As a result of the abuse, plaintiff has continually suffered from mental anguish and severe emotional distress.

Despite multiple reports of abuse, the Seattle Archdiocese continued to conceal its knowledge of Lavelle’s abuse, even withholding his name from their list of “credibly accused” priests following his death.

“The Seattle Archdiocese should explain to the community not only why it subjected them to a parish priest as abusive as Father Howard Lavelle, but also admit and atone for concealing Father Lavelle’s identity as a child sexual abuse perpetrator likely to have abused scores of children in the St. Louise Parish,” said Darrell Cochran. “We have been relying on the integrity of the Archdiocese to tell us candidly about who in its priesthood raped children and the Archdiocese committed to this as part of our community healing; but this example, uncovered just now, undermines it all. The Archdiocese needs to come clean. It needs to earn our trust by telling the truth, and it needs to be the whole truth rather than just enough truth to meet the needs of the moment.”

St Louis Parish is one of 73 schools owned and operated by the Seattle Archdiocese.