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Morning Star Boys’ Ranch

Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, a Spokane boys’ home, is an institution beloved by many. Others, however, say the ranch was a place where they endured physical and sexual abuse. Follow the investigation here.

“Father Joe” ran Morning Star Boys’ Ranch for more than 40 years.

Diocese returns Morning Star ranch priest to ministry

The Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, the former director of Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, has been reinstated as an active priest after the last sex abuse claims against him were rejected by a retired federal judge hired to rule on the credibility of the cases. Referred to as “Father Joe” by a Catholic community that admired his decades of work with troubled boys, Weitensteiner, now 82, has never wavered in his insistence that he didn’t molest boys entrusted to his care at the ranch southeast of Spokane.
Quigley

Spokane Park Board resolution honors Jim Quigley

The Spokane Park Board this week honored its vice president who died last month. Jim Quigley, 79, who worked as a dentist for about four decades in Spokane, served on the board for nine years.

Parishes giving $1.5 million toward settling sex cases

Catholic parishes are contributing $1.5 million toward a broad legal settlement expected to help the church resolve clergy sex abuse claims and avoid the foreclosure of churches and schools. It’s the second settlement in five years that has been billed as ending the bankruptcy of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, which has struggled with more than a decade of scandal.

Boys’ Ranch reaches deal

Nineteen lawsuits against the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch have been settled, part of a larger settlement that’s expected to sew shut all of the outstanding legal issues surrounding the clergy sex abuse problems of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane. The seven years of litigation damaged the reputation of Morning Star and its revered longtime director, the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, who had been affectionately called Father Joe by legions of former ranch residents, Catholic parishioners and supporters.

Boys ranch joins talks on abuse claims

A mediation effort designed to resolve ongoing legal problems faced by the Catholic Diocese of Spokane now includes the Morning Star Boys Ranch, according to court records. It sets up the possibility that a far-reaching agreement would sew shut most if not all of the outstanding clergy sex abuse litigation that continues to plague the two Catholic ministries a decade after the scandal broke in Spokane.

Morning Star joins diocese in mediation effort

A mediation effort designed to resolve ongoing legal problems faced by the Catholic Diocese of Spokane now includes the Morning Star Boys Ranch, according to court records. It sets up the possibility that a far-reaching agreement would sew shut most if not all of the outstanding clergy sex abuse litigation that continues to the plague the two Catholic ministries a decade after the scandal broke in Spokane.

DSHS settles abuse case from ’70s for $1.7 million

A Spokane man molested in the 1970s after being placed as a foster child in the home of a convicted child molester will be paid $1.7 million by the state Department of Social and Health Services as part of a settlement that avoids a civil trial that was to begin Monday. Attorneys informed Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen that they reached the settlement Sunday night, which avoided a civil trial scheduled to last five weeks.

Judge overturns contempt finding of Catholic Diocese

A senior federal judge in Spokane reversed a lower court order Monday and cleared the Spokane Catholic Diocese and its lawyers of contempt. It was a rare legal win for the diocese since it reopened its bankruptcy case last year to fight a group of newly filed sex abuse claims.

Ruling puts parishes at risk of foreclosure

The Spokane Catholic Diocese must raise more than $800,000 this fall, some of it due in two weeks, to pay sex abuse claims or risk defaulting on its bankruptcy obligations and losing parishes to foreclosure. The diocese lost a legal fight Tuesday that could have forestalled such a drastic step. Diocese officials did not respond to messages left Tuesday after U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Patricia Williams cleared the way for collection efforts.

Blog Posts

Boys’ ranch accuser already had settlement

Although a jury last month rejected Kenneth Putnam’s sex abuse allegations against Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, the Catholic Diocese of Spokane had already paid Putnam a settlement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.The award to Putman is among 10 such settlements totaling more than $3...

2 jurors dismissed from Boys’ Ranch case

Two jurors will be removed from deliberations in the Morning Star Boys' Ranch sexual abuse case because of misconduct. The two discussed the case outside of deliberations, which led Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor to dismiss them this morning. Two alternate jurors will be brought...
 The Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner waits in the fourth-floor hallway of the Spokane County Courthouse to testify in the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch trial on Wednesday. 
 (Dan Pelle)

Ranch trial could go to jury Tuesday

Closing arguments are expected tomorrow in the Morning Star Boys' Ranch sex abuse trial. The lengthy trial is the first of more than a dozen cases that could go to trial in Spokane County Superior Court.On Thursday, the Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner (pictured above) said that...

Big day in Boys’ Ranch abuse trial

An unexpected witness may testify that former Morning Star Boys’ Ranch director Joseph Weitensteiner had him procure boys for sex and then gave him money to keep it quiet years later, according to a motion today in the first sex-abuse trial against the ranch. The...

Boys’ ranch trial enters day 2

Either Morning Star Boys’ Ranch management turned a blind eye to decades of child sexual abuse or it is being persecuted by discreditable former residents looking to make a buck. Those were the strategies outlined by legal adversaries in the first of 19 lawsuits against...

Slight delay in Morning Star Boy’s Ranch trial

The first of numerous lawsuits alleging abuse of a former resident of Morning Star Boys Ranch was delayed today while the Spokane County Superior Court judge assigned to hear it reviews pretrial motions in the case, Kevin Graman reports. Trial of the civil case, brought...