Three decades ago, while Spokane reveled in its changing skyline and the limelight of hosting a World’s Fair, the city frequently was described as a great place to raise a family.
But beneath the surface lurked a dark secret – actually several of them.
Young boys – some from troubled backgrounds and others from prominent families – were being sexually abused by a group of men who were supposed to be role models and authority figures. Growing evidence suggests that people who knew about the abuse did nothing to stop it or report it.
Two attorneys who represent several alleged victims from the era believe there was a pedophile ring operating in Spokane.
Others blame a culture of secrecy, denial and ignorance for allowing revered, male-dominated institutions like the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to ignore abusers in their midst.
“The people and institutions who helped keep these secrets are almost as guilty as the perpetrators,” said Seattle attorney Tim Kosnoff, who represents two of at least four men who allege they were passed around among abusers.
“There was definitely a sex ring operating in Spokane, preying on young boys,” Kosnoff said, using the FBI’s definition of two or more individuals sharing information and victims to make his point.
Spokane attorney Duane Rasmussen, who also represents several alleged victims from the 1970s, believes people knew about the abuse and kept it quiet.
“There was an institutional cover-up going on, which extended from various parts of law enforcement to the Catholic Church’s Spokane diocese,” Rasmussen said. “Institutions protect themselves. There’s no question some of the various perpetrators knew each other for some time and would cooperate with each other.”
For most of the community, the first inkling of a systemic child abuse problem didn’t come to light until 2002 when the Spokane Catholic Diocese was sued over the actions of the Rev. Patrick O’Donnell and at least a half-dozen other priests accused of molesting boys.
In many ways, the crisis in Spokane mirrored clergy sex-abuse scandals in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere. But the magnitude of the scandal here would eventually force the Spokane diocese to seek U.S. bankruptcy protection in December 2004 – one of only two dioceses and one arch-diocese in the country to do so.
To date, at least 60 victims are seeking a total of $76 million from the Spokane diocese.
But some of the abuse appears to have gone far beyond the Catholic church.
News reports about O’Donnell triggered a number of phone calls and letters to The Spokesman-Review in 2002. There were reports that some of O’Donnell’s victims also were abused by George E. Robey Jr., a Spokane insurance executive and Boy Scout leader who killed himself in April 1982.
In 2003, the newspaper launched an investigation into Robey’s suicide and the suicide eight months earlier of another Boy Scout leader, David Hahn.
Hahn was a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who killed himself in August 1981 after being accused of sexually abusing boys.
At the time of his death, Hahn was the assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 345, which was headed by his friend and fellow deputy Jim West, who is now Spokane’s mayor.
Stories about Hahn eventually led to a newspaper investigation of West. On May 5, The Spokesman-Review reported the allegations of two men who claimed they were molested as boys in the 1970s by West and Hahn.
West has denied the allegations and said he was unaware of anyone abusing boys at that time.
Not all of the suspected victims from the era have come forward publicly or filed lawsuits.
Some said they are still coping with feelings of anger, shame and embarrassment, and have talked only on the condition of anonymity.
Others have filed suits using only their initials or as “John Doe.”
Still others have died, leaving behind families who believe they were victims of abuse.
A mother who asked not to be identified told the newspaper she believes her son killed himself in a North Division Street motel room in August 2000 because he was abused as a Boy Scout and could not cope with the memory.
Another man, Tim Corrigan of Spokane, was 39 and the father of three young children when he ended his life in August 2002, several hours after seeing a newspaper photograph of O’Donnell. Family members said Corrigan’s suicide was the result of abuse he suffered when he was 12.‘Poster boy’
David Hahn was a decorated Vietnam War veteran, a triathlete, Boy Scout leader and a sheriff’s deputy who attended Messiah Lutheran Church, where he taught religion classes.
A retired deputy told the newspaper in 2003 that Hahn “was a poster boy” for the sheriff’s department in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “Nobody took these allegations about him seriously,” the man said on condition of anonymity.
But at least five men – brothers Brett and Robert Galliher, Doug Chicklinsky and two others – have accused Hahn of sexually molesting them when they were boys in the 1970s.
In one instance, Chicklinsky told the newspaper Hahn checked him out of the county’s Juvenile Detention Center for the day to molest him at a Boy Scout camp and later at the deputy’s apartment.
Four men are suing Spokane County for the actions of Hahn, seeking unspecified monetary damages. The case is scheduled to go to trial in November. Two weeks ago, private attorneys hired by the county were unsuccessful in their request to have the trial moved elsewhere.
Still another man, now a cook in Spokane who asked not to be identified, said he was sexually molested by Hahn after meeting him in a church class. The man, who contacted the newspaper this spring, said he was too embarrassed to report the abuse to authorities at the time. He is not part of the lawsuit against the county.
Complaints about Hahn’s behavior finally prompted former Sheriff Larry Erickson to assign Inspector Terry Snedden in 1980 to investigate the young deputy. Sheriff’s records show Snedden dismissed the complaints against Hahn and kept him working as a patrol deputy.
Weeks later, Hahn met two boys at a Spokane Valley swimming pool and took them to his South Hill apartment to molest them, according to Sheriff’s Office records. County officials will not identify the boys, citing a state law preventing the release of names of juvenile sex-crime victims.
When the boys’ father later confronted Hahn, the deputy called the Sheriff’s Office and confessed over the phone that he was in trouble.
Told a few days later to resign or face a criminal investigation, Hahn went home and shot himself in the head with his service revolver on Aug. 28, 1981. He was 36.
Law enforcement records on the allegations against Hahn and his subsequent suicide have been difficult to obtain using a state law that provides public access to government records.
The Spokesman-Review first sought access to Hahn’s records in 2003 and was told that follow-up detective reports were either destroyed or did not exist.
In April of this year, some of the documents the newspaper requested were found in a cardboard box in a storage closet at the Spokane City-County Public Safety Building. But sheriff’s officials said they still could not locate reports that should have been written by two senior sheriff’s officers who found Hahn’s body in his apartment.
Because Hahn’s apartment at 3424 S. Regal was in the city limits, police officers were also called to the scene. When the newspaper requested records from Spokane Police in 2003 and again in June, attorney Jeanie Spiering said the department “does not have any further records” relating to Hahn.
This month, the police department’s follow-up report, written in 1982 by Major Crimes Detective Charles Staudinger, was included among more than 3,400 documents obtained from a private attorney defending Spokane County.
Staudinger’s one-page report concluded Hahn’s death was a suicide. It did not mention the sexual abuse allegations against the deputy.
Another public document reveals that while The Spokesman-Review was seeking records on Hahn in 2003, the police department was conducting an internal investigation into “missing police records.”
According to an internal affairs report, Assistant Police Chief Al Odenthal ordered the investigation in 2003. Although the report concludes there were no missing Hahn records, several officials are quoted as saying there may have been a possible “cover-up” in the 1980s.
Spiering “believed that she had heard about a possible ‘cover-up’ in the 1980s involving the initial sexual abuse allegations against Hahn,” according to the report.
The same report also quotes now-retired sheriff’s Lt. Ken Marshall and Sgt. Ron Ethridge, who said they believed Hahn’s involvement with boys “was covered up” by senior sheriff’s officers.‘Flat lies’
One of the plaintiffs in the case against Hahn and Spokane County also has accused West of sexual abuse. West is not named in the suit but is on a list of potential witnesses.
In a sworn deposition, Robert J. Galliher said West molested him at least four times in the 1970s, twice while West was on duty in uniform, driving a sheriff’s car.
In an interview with the newspaper, Galliher said he was introduced to West by Hahn at Hahn’s apartment. At the time of the alleged abuse, West lived in an apartment about a block from Hahn.
“This one time Dave ended up leaving me in (his) apartment with Jim West,” Galliher said. “Jim West ended up molesting me.”
Afterward, Galliher said he was warned by West not to say anything. “He just told me I better not tell anyone about this. I mean, kind of the same threat that Dave Hahn had told me.”
Like Galliher, Michael G. Grant, who is currently in jail for drug possession, also has accused West of sexual abuse in the 1970s. Grant is not a plaintiff in the suit against the county.
West has called the allegations “flat lies.” In previous interviews with the newspaper, West said he had “no clue” Hahn may have been a pedophile. But a man now living in Seattle said he told West he was being abused by Hahn during a camping trip around Mount Rainier in 1980.
“I told Jim West what had happened and asked if I could move to another tent,” said the man named Scott. “I think I was pretty clear about what I told him, and I remember him just dismissing me.”
West has also been accused of pulling down the swimming trunks and pants of boys, some of them as young as 8, at Camp Cowles, the Scout camp on Diamond Lake, in the late 1970s, according to two men who said they were eyewitnesses.
“When it happened, I looked over at another adult and said, ‘This doesn’t seem appropriate,’” said a Spokane businessman whose son was also present at Camp Cowles. “But we didn’t do anything, and nothing went beyond that in our presence.”
“Jim West did, in fact, ‘pants’ the boys,” said the man’s wife, who asked that her family name not be divulged. “I know this happened because my son, John, told me it happened, and my husband was present on one of those occasions.”
The woman said she and her husband are now guilt-ridden that they didn’t report West’s activities at the time.Day trips
In the 1970s and 80s, there were at least three ranches in the region for troubled boys: Those were Morning Star in south Spokane, and J-Bar-D and Reynolds Creek in Pend Oreille County. All were licensed by the state of Washington. Only Morning Star remains.
While many residents in the region share fond memories and success stories about the ranches, others said they suspect pedophiles may have been drawn to the facilities.
Hahn, West, Robey and O’Donnell have all been identified as having contact with boys from the ranches in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Hahn’s brother-in-law, Dick Walters, said he clearly remembers that Hahn and West checked out boys from Morning Star for recreational outings.
Morning Star officials initially denied that Hahn and West could have removed boys from the facility but acknowledged recently that visitors were not required to register their names in ranch log books.
A former neighbor of Hahn’s mother told the newspaper she remembers Hahn and West repeatedly bringing boys under the age of 12 to the home of Hahn’s mother on the North Side during the late 1970s. The woman said Hahn told her the boys were from ranches north of Spokane.
The woman said she could not recall the specific names of the ranches but did not believe the boys came from Morning Star. The retired Spokane businesswoman asked that she not be identified because she did not want Hahn’s survivors or West to know her name.
The two deputies were “joined at the hip,” said the woman, who also was a friend of the Hahn family. In 1977, West and Hahn received a federal grant to supervise a camping program for troubled boys at Camp Cowles. But the deputies also took boys from the state-licensed group homes, Walters and the woman said.
The deputies often arrived at Hahn’s mother’s home in a sports car, with the boys sitting in the back seat, the woman said. Hahn instructed her not to tell the boys that he and West were sheriff’s deputies, according to the woman. “He said, ‘Don’t tell those kids what I do,’” she said. “We never said anything. He said he was helping them.”
Walters said he now believes his former brother-in-law was a pedophile.
Former Pend Oreille County Sheriff Tony Bamonte said he complained about sexual and physical abuse at J-Bar-D and Reynolds Creek ranches in the early 1980s. Bamonte said he told Bernard O. Nelson, the state’s regional administrator in charge of child welfare, about the abuse, and eventually complained to officials at the Department of Social and Health Services in Olympia.
“I had to make a lot of noise to get anything done,” Bamonte said recently.
Eventually, a Superior Court judge was named to head a secret inquiry into the reports of abuse at J-Bar-D and Reynolds Creek. Nelson was subpoenaed to testify at the proceeding.
The inquiry resulted in closure of the two ranches in the mid-‘80s. No criminal charges were filed, and details of the inquiry remain sealed from public view.
“At that time, people with the power to do something, from the prosecutor’s office on up to state officials, just weren’t interested in doing anything about these reports of abuse of young boys,” Bamonte said.
“The people in charge – everybody covers for everybody else, and that’s not right, particularly when children suffer as a result of it,” said the former sheriff, now a historian and author living in Spokane.
Nelson, the now-retired administrator, was a Boy Scout parent volunteer at the time and a neighbor and relative of Robey, who lived at 1532 E. Pinecrest Road. Two of Nelson’s sons were in Robey’s Boy Scout troop.
According to court records, Robey had an extensive pornography collection and individual pictures of naked boys, but if those materials were discovered after his death they apparently were not turned over to police.
Nelson said in a recent interview he didn’t know Robey was an accused child molester at the time of his death, or that a young Boy Scout had lived in Robey’s home. That former Scout now claims he was molested for more than four years by Robey.
“If something improper was occurring, I knew nothing about it,” Nelson said. “Those were different times. We look at these things differently now.”
In 1978, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported that 15-year-old Timothy D. Everts, a runaway from Morning Star, fatally shot himself after learning he was about to be returned to the ranch. Before his death, the boy told friends there was “homosexual” and physical abuse going on at the ranch – claims ranch director Rev. Joe Weitensteiner has recently disputed.
Nelson also said he was unaware of any problems at Morning Star.
This past June, The Spokesman-Review reported that Everts killed himself after telling a friend that a Catholic priest named Patrick O’Donnell sexually abused him at the ranch.
The state agency charged with licensing Morning Star said it can find no evidence that Everts’ allegations were investigated following the 1978 published report. At the time, the Spokane diocese had already sent O’Donnell to Seattle for sexual deviancy counseling.
Earlier this month, Morning Star officials said O’Donnell did visit the ranch, but was never assigned any duties. In a 2004 deposition, O’Donnell said he did “evaluations” at the ranch in the early to mid-1980s and also took boys from parishes to play basketball and other activities at the ranch.
Ranch officials said they were unaware of records that support O’Donnell’s testimony.
Dan Dennis, who lived at Morning Star in 1978, told the newspaper that Weitensteiner gathered boys from the ranch together and told them that “Timmy Everts made allegations that there was molestation going on up here. But it didn’t happen. Forget about it.”
Weitensteiner, interviewed earlier this month, denied that he knew of Everts’ allegations in 1978.
“To the best of my knowledge, Timmy Everts never told anybody about anyone touching him inappropriately,” Weitensteiner said.
Asked if he believed there was a group of pedophiles preying on boys in the Spokane area three decades ago, Weitensteiner said, “Not to my knowledge.”‘Serial pedophile’
O’Donnell, Robey and Hahn were allegedly abusing boys during the same time frame. The common denominator among the three men appears to be the Boy Scouts.
O’Donnell, born in 1942, and Robey, born in 1933, both grew up on the South Hill and were Scouts as boys.
Hahn, born in 1944, grew up on the North Side near Shadle Park and also was active in Boy Scouts as a child.
Hahn and Robey became Scout leaders; O’Donnell became a chaplain to the Boy Scouts, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane Police Department.
There are now at least four men who claim they were sexually abused by both Robey and O’Donnell in the 1970s and 1980s.
O’Donnell is described in court documents as a “serial pedophile” who admitted sexually molesting more than a dozen boys before being removed from ministry in 1986, six years after becoming a state-licensed child psychologist.
Over the years, O’Donnell’s abuse was reported by victims and their families to church officials, including two bishops, but apparently not directly to law enforcement.
By the time O’Donnell’s victims came forward, too much time had elapsed, and the former priest was never charged with a crime. After recently working at an Indian gaming casino in Western Washington, he reportedly traveled to Southeast Asia to help tsunami victims, according to attorneys tracking his whereabouts.
The saga of O’Donnell’s abuse over three decades was spelled out in his own words one year ago when he answered questions under oath in his deposition for the pending suit against the Spokane diocese, now stalled because of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing.
O’Donnell graduated from seminary and was ordained a priest in 1971, the same year he met and befriended Robey at Camp Cowles on Diamond Lake.
While working as a Scout chaplain at the camp in the summer of 1971, O’Donnell molested a teenage boy he met in seminary, he said in his deposition.
O’Donnell was assigned to St. Mary’s parish in Spokane Valley in 1973 where he said he almost immediately began molesting boys, including one who also was sexually assaulted by Robey at Robey’s cabin on Newman Lake.
When complaints about O’Donnell were forwarded to the diocese, he was transferred in 1974 to Assumption of the Blessed Virgin parish in northwest Spokane. He received therapy from the Rev. Marvin Lavoy, who had become a counselor after serving as the founding director of Morning Star Boys Ranch from 1957 to 1966.
By 1976, O’Donnell moved to St. Paul’s parish in Seattle, where he started working on his doctorate in psychology at the University of Washington. He wrote his dissertation on forming interpersonal trust between children and adults.
In 1978, during a trip to North Idaho, O’Donnell said he abused three boys and then introduced them to Robey.
The following year, according to his deposition, O’Donnell returned from treatment to Spokane and lived at Our Lady of Lourdes rectory downtown where he did family counseling and post-doctoral studies.
In 1980, he was assigned to Holy Rosary parish in Rosalia and stayed there until 1985. While there, O’Donnell and a then-middle school coach abused a teenage boy during trips to a cabin at Lake Coeur d’Alene, according to Kosnoff, the alleged victim’s attorney. The former coach has not been charged criminally.
While in Rosalia, O’Donnell also was accused of molesting three other boys whose parents complained to then-Spokane Bishop Lawrence Welsh.
While those complaints were being investigated, O’Donnell was transferred again, this time to St. John Vianney in Spokane Valley, where parishioners immediately raised their concerns with Welsh.
But at the time, Welsh apparently was wrestling with his own sexual demons.
Kosnoff said he believes Welsh and O’Donnell “kept each other’s secrets.”
Welsh, who became bishop in 1978, was investigated in September 1986 for allegedly attempting to strangle a male prostitute in a Chicago hotel room. When Spokane police detectives interviewed Welsh, he acknowledged the encounter, but denied attempting to kill or harm the man, according to a report.
Detectives concluded Welsh “was truly embarrassed and regretful of the incident.” When the victim declined to pursue charges, Chicago police closed the case and Welsh was never charged with a crime.
Welsh was arrested for drunken driving three years later after being stopped, alone in his car, at 3:31 a.m. on March 11, 1989, in an area of East Sprague frequented by prostitutes.
Welsh resigned a short time later and died in 1999 at age 63.Brotherhood of campers
George Robey, who was single and lived on the South Hill, was vice president of Rogers & Rogers, a Spokane insurance company.
In 1973, the 40-year-old executive became scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 353, chartered through the Hutton Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association.
During the World’s Fair in 1974, Robey was the coordinator of Boy Scout troops that rotated through a camp set up in what is now Riverfront Park.
The following year, he reportedly was the first non-Catholic to receive the St. George Medal, presented by the Spokane diocese for his work with Catholic Scouts. He also was a member of the prestigious Boy Scout Order of the Arrow, a select group of Scouts called the “brotherhood of honor campers.”
In 1978, he received the “Silver Beaver” award for his contributions to Scouting.
Then in 1979, for reasons that are not clear, Robey assumed a lesser position as “assistant scoutmaster,” but remained active with Troop 353.
One of the boys in Robey’s troop apparently lived with him, listing Robey’s address as his own, according to Scout records obtained by The Spokesman-Review.
Among Robey’s accusers is Timothy J. Carlson, a former assistant Scout leader who told the newspaper he was sexually abused by Robey in the mid-1970s.
Carlson, now a registered sex offender living in Seattle, was convicted in 1986 of molesting a 15-year-old Boy Scout in Spokane County. In 1992, he was charged with molesting five other boys between the ages of 9 and 12, and pleaded guilty in two of the cases.
For a time in the early 1980s, Carlson lived with West at a house on Spokane’s South Hill. In a previous interview with the newspaper, West said he’d heard Carlson had become an abuser, but did not know that Carlson was abused by Robey. West also said he hardly knew Robey.
Spokane resident Pat McGowan attended Camp Cowles as a boy in the 1970s. While on a Catholic Scout retreat in the fall of 1977 at Mount St. Michael’s, McGowan said Robey talked with him and three other boys about masturbation.
In a court affidavit, McGowan said he was told that Robey “had shaved the pubic hair” of another young Scout “who had contracted crabs.”
According to the affidavit, in 1978 McGowan told Richard Fullenwider, who was then executive director of the Boy Scouts, and Phil Harris, now a Spokane County commissioner, about Robey’s inappropriate sexual comments.
“I reported incidents and concerns (about Robey) to Mr. Harris on several occasions,” McGowan said in the affidavit.
Fullenwider, now living in the Southwest, said he never heard of Robey until the suit against the Boy Scouts was filed.
Harris said he could not talk about sexual abuse allegations against Robey, Hahn or West upon the advice of private attorneys involved in two separate, pending lawsuits – one against the Boy Scouts and the Spokane diocese for Robey’s conduct, and one against Spokane County for the actions of Hahn.
In the late 1970s, Harris was director at Camp Cowles and the field director – the No. 2 executive – for the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts of America.
Harris, who could be called as a witness in the lawsuits, would only say that if “terrible things happened to these kids back then, I certainly wasn’t aware of it.”
The suit against the diocese and the Scouts was filed by “John Doe,” a former Spokane man who told The Spokesman-Review he was molested by both O’Donnell and Robey. The two men would use their personal motorboats to meet in the middle of Lake Coeur d’Alene, sometimes exchanging boys for weekend cruises, the man said.
Now a businessman living in Seattle, the man agreed to be interviewed in the office of his Seattle attorney, Michael Withey.
John Doe said his family moved to Spokane in 1968 and shortly thereafter he got involved in Scouts and met Robey at a Priest Lake home. Sometime later, he joined Robey’s Troop 353.
In April 1973, Robey took several of his Scouts for an “overnight retreat” to his family cabin on Newman Lake. While a teenager, John Doe said, he was stripped by other boys and “strung up” with rope between a couple of trees while Robey took pictures. “I was humiliated,” the man said.
Later that evening, John Doe said he was taken by Robey into a bedroom at the cabin.
“He molested me that night, and that was the first occasion of several hundred,” said the man, who later lived with Robey and saw several pictures of other naked boys in Robey’s home.
The man said Robey liked to take individual pictures of naked boys who were frequently posed with a large stuffed bunny. “I know he had those pictures in his home because I saw them there,” the man said.
His name was on Robey’s suicide note, obtained by The Spokesman-Review, but the man said he was never contacted by Spokane Police detectives who investigated the death.
Robey, who shot himself in his garage after a sea cruise, requested in his suicide note that a motorcycle be given to the man.
At the time of Robey’s death in 1982 he was not only a Boy Scout leader, but also president of what was then known as the Inland Empire Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls.
Camp Fire Girls opened its ranks to boys in 1975; Robey became a director in 1978 and president in 1980.
Robey’s survivors and friends collected donations in his memory for a Camp Fire lodge on Lake Coeur d’Alene that still bears his name.
Lee Taylor, the current local director of Camp Fire USA, wouldn’t allow The Spokesman-Review to see or photograph the plaque with Robey’s name at Camp Sweyolakan, where kids still go for summer fun.
The lodge was dedicated in Robey’s memory in 1984 by his friend, a priest who also said he loved kids – Patrick O’Donnell.
David D. Hahn – Spokane County sheriff’s deputy, Vietnam veteran and leader of Boy Scout Troop 345 at Hamblen Elementary in the late 1970s with his good friend and fellow deputy Jim West. Born in Spokane, Hahn had been repeatedly accused of molesting boys and was 36 when he took his own life at his South Hill apartment on Aug. 28, 1981.
Patrick G. O’Donnell – A Catholic priest from 1971 to 1985, he was the church’s chaplain to the Boy Scouts, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Police Department. Born in Illinois in 1942, O’Donnell was a close friend of George Robey Jr. After being forced out of the priesthood and losing his state license to be a therapist and counselor, he reportedly went to work in a casino and may now be in Southeast Asia.
George E. Robey Jr. – Spokane insurance executive, leader of Boy Scout Troop 353 at Hutton Elementary from 1972 to 1982, and coordinator of Boy Scout troops during Expo ‘74. Born in Spokane, Robey was president of Camp Fire Boys and Girls and 48 years old when he took his own life at his Spokane home on April 25, 1982.
James E. West – A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy from 1976 to 1978 after a year with the Medical Lake Police Department. He and Hahn were deputies together, friends and co-scoutmasters of Boy Scout Troop 345 at Hamblen Elementary. West later became a Spokane city councilman, state representative and state senator before being elected Spokane’s mayor in 2003. He is 54.
Timothy J. Carlson – Moved to Spokane as a teenager and joined Robey’s Troop 353 in the early 1970s, eventually becoming an assistant troop leader. Carlson alleges he was molested by Robey while spending the night at the Scout leader’s home. After living for a time with West, Carlson was convicted in 1986 of molesting a 15-year-old Boy Scout in Spokane County. In 1992, he was charged with molesting five additional boys between the ages of 9 and 12, and pleaded guilty in two of the cases. Now 49, he’s a registered sex offender living in Seattle.
Lawrence Welsh – Former bishop who headed the Spokane diocese from 1978 to 1989, and fielded parishioners’ complaints about O’Donnell. Welsh was investigated in September 1986 but never charged for allegedly attempting to strangle a male prostitute in a Chicago hotel room. The bishop stepped down shortly after being arrested for drunken driving in Spokane in 1989. He died in 1999 at age 63.
Robert J. Galliher – A former Spokane man who alleges he was repeatedly abused by Hahn between the ages of 9 and 12. Galliher also claims he was molested by West at least four times in the 1970s. Now 36, Galliher alleges he was severely beaten in the Spokane County Jail in 2003 after speaking out about the abuse he suffered.
Michael G. Grant Jr. – Another former Spokane man who also alleges he was sexually abused as a boy by Hahn and West. Grant, now in jail for his seventh felony drug arrest, hasn’t filed suit, but could be a witness in the lawsuit against Spokane County. Now 31, Grant claims he was molested at Hahn’s Spokane apartment and at Camp Cowles, the Boy Scout camp at Diamond Lake in Pend Oreille County.
Douglas A. Chicklinsky – A 41-year-old Spokane Valley man who is one of four plaintiffs in a suit against Spokane County. Chicklinsky, who has had run-ins with the law, alleges he was molested as a teenager in the 1970s by Hahn. At one point, Chicklinsky said he was “checked out” of the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center and molested by Hahn at Camp Cowles and later at the deputy’s Spokane apartment.
At a glance
The alleged sexual abuse of boys by priests, Boy Scout leaders and a sheriff’s deputy in the 1970s and ‘80s has led to at least 21 pending lawsuits in Spokane County Superior Court.
The Spokane Catholic Diocese is a defendant in 19 lawsuits involving 60 plaintiffs.
The Inland Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America is a defendant in one suit.
Spokane County and the sheriff’s office are defendants in another.
Here is a breakdown of some of the pending lawsuits:
Sept. 26, 2002: Ten former altar boys and Catholic students sue for unspecified damages against the Spokane Catholic Diocese. The plaintiffs allege they were sexually abused by the Rev. Patrick G. O’Donnell. The diocese’s current bishop, William Skylstad, is accused of knowing about the abuse as early as 1974 and failing to alert law enforcement authorities and restrict O’Donnell’s access to children.
Oct. 17, 2002: “John Doe,” a former Boy Scout, files suit against the diocese and the Boy Scouts for alleged abuse he suffered in the 1970s and ‘80s at the hands of O’Donnell and his friend George Robey Jr., who was a Boy Scout leader.
July 9, 2003: A plaintiff identifying himself only as “T.C.” files suit against the diocese for alleged sexual abuse over three decades by another priest, the Rev. James O’Malley, who retired in 1989.
Nov. 3, 2003: Four men who claim they were sexually abused in the 1970s and ‘80s by Spokane County sheriff’s deputy David Hahn file a claim seeking at least $2 million in damages from the county and the sheriff’s office. Their claims are rejected June 29, 2004, by attorneys for the county, and the men then file a lawsuit for damages. A private attorney is hired to defend the county. Trial is scheduled for November.
July 1, 2004: Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor refuses to dismiss pending suits against the diocese, a month after Judge Maryann Moreno made the same ruling in a companion set of suits against the church.
July and August 2004: In a court deposition, O’Donnell admits molesting at least a dozen boys and having contact with many more, including some at Morning Star Boys Ranch.
Dec. 6, 2004: The Spokane Catholic Diocese files for U.S. Bankruptcy Court protection. The action, still pending, puts the brakes on the 19 lawsuits.
In the decades since allegations of sexual abuse were leveled against several prominent Spokane institutions, the organizations have adopted more stringent policies.
•The Boy Scouts of America adopted its Youth Protection, Education and Training policies during the 1980s – among the first youth groups to adopt comprehensive guidelines for the problem. The Scouts emphasize background checks and training for all adult leaders and volunteers, and they offer programs encouraging Scouts and parents to recognize and report abuse. The group’s rules prohibit one-on-one contact between adults and Scouts, and it maintains a database of people who cannot serve in Boy Scout positions for violating the rules.
•The Spokane diocese maintains a Web site listing priests who have been removed from the ministry because of sexual abuse allegations, a chart listing claims against the diocese, and copies of church policies on the matter.
The U.S. Conference of Bishops adopted a new policy in 2002 dealing with sexual abuse in response to the abuse scandals of recent years. The policy requires each diocese to have a review board, with lay members in the majority, to review claims of sexual abuse and advise the bishop. The policy bans from the ministry any priest who has ever abused a minor, calls for background checks of all church representatives who have contact with children, and requires bishops to report allegations of abuse to police.
• Morning Star Boys Ranch officials conduct background checks on all employees and volunteers. The ranch has changed accommodations to individual rooms with locked doors and separate showers, and ranch officials say they emphasize to boys that they should report any molestation.
From staff reports
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