March 15, 2006 in City

Diocese to list exact number of abuse claims

The Spokesman-Review

The Catholic Diocese of Spokane will wait several days before announcing the exact number of sex abuse claims filed in its bankruptcy case.

As of Friday’s deadline for filing claims, at least 176 people alleged they had been sexually abused as children by Catholic clergy serving Eastern Washington.

Diocese attorney Shaun Cross said an exact number of claims would be disclosed this week, perhaps with more information about unnamed priests who have been credibly accused.

The diocese denies the validity of a sex abuse claim filed in December against Bishop William Skylstad. The allegations were disclosed last week and prompted calls for Skylstad to step down as bishop and president of the U.S. Association of Catholic Bishops.

The analysis of claims is an important step in the Chapter 11 case and should give the diocese a clearer picture of its liabilities.

Also this week, the diocese plans to discuss in more detail its $45.7 million settlement offer to 75 victims, and what Cross called significant offers to help fund claims.

–John Stucke

County confident U.S. will use bigger jail

Spokane County commissioners said Tuesday they are satisfied the U.S. Justice Department won’t abandon them after they spend $1.4 million to make room for federal jail inmates.

Commissioners voted last month to renovate an old gym at Geiger Corrections Center to add 76 medium-security beds to the West Plains lockup. The county will shift prisoners from the jail to Geiger to make room for federal inmates currently being housed in Kennewick.

County leaders recently put the deal on hold saying they wanted assurances that federal officials would not pull prisoners from the Spokane County Jail.

At a meeting Tuesday, they agreed to go ahead with construction, which could be finished in nine to 12 months.

U.S. Marshal Mike Kline said federal officials are unable to guarantee the number of inmates they will send, but history shows that they will have no problem filling their allotment. The agency has agreed to pay increased daily incarceration fees of $73 per inmate.

Jonathan Brunt

Police say car thefts up threefold Monday

Twenty-three cars were reported stolen Monday in Spokane, three times higher than usual, Spokane police officials said. Thieves tried to steal a 24th car but were unsuccessful, said police spokesman Cpl. Tom Lee.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, an additional six cars were reported stolen, he said.

Monday’s car thefts occurred primarily in the Shiloh Hills, Nevada-Lidgerwood and East Central neighborhoods. Pre-1995 Hondas and Toyota models made up a majority of the stolen vehicles, likely because they have fewer security features, according to crime analysts.

Most of the cars were used for transportation and quickly abandoned, Lee said. Six of the vehicles stolen Monday had keys left inside, and at least two autos were left unoccupied with the motors running.

Vehicle theft reports have averaged just over seven a day this year – up from six per day last year, Lee said.

Spokane police say never to hide a key in your car, and don’t leave it unoccupied with the engine running. The latter situation could lead to a citation and a $101 fine.

Jody Lawrence-Turner

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email