February 27, 2005 in Region

Diocese denies claim in abuse suit

Associated Press

YAKIMA – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Yakima has formally denied the accusations made in a recent lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a priest.

Rose Yates Lamey, formerly of Zillah, filed suit in early February in Yakima County Superior Court, claiming she was raped by the Rev. Michael Simpson in 1962 when she was 10.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the diocese said the church had no knowledge of any alleged abuse at the time by Simpson, who is deceased.

“Defendant is without information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations and therefore denies them,” Seattle lawyers Thomas Frey and Michael Bolasina wrote.

The diocese attorneys also argued that the statute of limitations has elapsed. Generally, juvenile victims of sexual abuse have three years after they reach adulthood to file lawsuits. One exception could be “repressed memory,” in which the victim doesn’t remember the incident until undergoing therapy.

The next step for Lamey’s lawsuit will be a scheduling order set by the court.

Although Lamey, who now lives in the Seattle area, is the sole plaintiff in the lawsuit, her sister, Mary Yates Smith, also said she suffered abuse at the hands of Simpson.

Bishop Carlos Sevilla had previously said he phoned Smith twice to discuss her complaint of priest abuse. Smith, who lives in Spokane, denied ever having spoken to the bishop about the case.

Sevilla later said he had been mistaken and had confused Smith with another woman.

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