Lawsuit Against Diocese of Yakima Dismissed

A lawsuit alleging that a priest of the Diocese of Yakima, who died in 1990, abused a girl in Waterville in the early 1970s was dismissed recently in Yakima County Superior Court.

The court granted the Diocese’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that there was not sufficient evidence to allow the claims to go to trial.  The judge found that there was no evidence the Diocese knew, or should have known, that the priest in question presented a risk of abuse or that the Diocese created the circumstance that allowed the alleged abuse to occur.  The motion was granted with prejudice, meaning the lawsuit cannot be brought again, though the ruling could be appealed.

The Diocese investigated the possibility of other alleged victims.  The woman’s representatives also conducted an extensive investigation including advertising.  Neither investigation uncovered any other allegation of abuse by the priest in question.

“Whether the allegations are true or not, we are certainly concerned about the woman’s suffering and well-being, and we will continue to pray for healing and peace for her,” said Yakima Bishop Joseph J. Tyson.  The Diocese offered counseling to her in 2009, a few months after the alleged abuse was reported.  The offer was declined.  The lawsuit was filed in March 2010.

For the past 12 years, victims of sexual abuse as minors have regularly been invited to make complaints to the Diocese, with the promise that the abuse will be reported to the authorities, and professionally investigated, with care and compassion, under the supervision of the Diocesan Lay Advisory Board. The hotline number is 1-888-276-4490.