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Seattle Catholic archdiocese to pay $12 million to settle sex abuse claims at 2 schools

The Archdiocese of Seattle said Tuesday it has agreed to pay $12.1 million to settle 30 sexual abuse claims filed by men who say they were abused decades ago at two archdiocesan schools operated by the Christian Brothers religious order.

The claims involved O'Dea High School in Seattle and the Briscoe School, a boarding and day school for boys in suburban Kent. The archdiocese continues to operate O'Dea, but the Christian Brothers are no longer involved. The Briscoe School closed in the late 1960s, archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said.

"I deeply regret the pain suffered by these victims," Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Michael Pfau said the archdiocese, under Sartain, "did the right thing and acknowledged the tremendous amount of pain and suffering that our clients, their families and our community have endured.

"This settlement is the first step in allowing all parties to focus on the future," the Seattle lawyer said in a statement.

The settlement will be paid by archdiocesan insurance.

The most recent cases are nearly 30 years old and some date back nearly 60 years, the archdiocese said.

The Briscoe School began operating under Christian Brothers' management in 1914. The Catholic religious order was involved in staffing O'Dea from its opening in 1923, the archdiocese said.

Pfau told The Seattle Times his clients in the case range in age from 42 to 68. The King County Superior Court lawsuits alleged that both the Christian Brothers and the archdiocese failed to protect them from known abusers.

About half the plaintiffs alleged they were abused at Briscoe.

Eleven men said they were sexually abused by one former O'Dea teacher while another five said they were abused at O'Dea by another former teacher, Pfau said.

Pfau said the men will also receive settlement money from the Christian Brothers bankruptcy proceeding. Two groups that hold Christian Brothers' assets sought federal bankruptcy protection in 2011 in the face of hundreds of abuse claims. The Christian Brothers staffed schools and worked in dioceses in a number of U.S. states as well as Canada.

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