September 30, 2006 in City

Ninth Seattle priest removed from ministry

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

SEATTLE – Another priest accused of child sexual abuse has been permanently removed from public ministry by the Vatican, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle said Friday.

The decision on Dennis V. Champagne, 61, brings to nine the number of priests from the archdiocese who have been removed from ministry over sex abuse allegations, spokesman Greg Magnoni said.

Through Dec. 31, 2005, the archdiocese had paid out $26 million in related counseling fees, attorney fees and settlements, he said.

The decision was made by the Vatican, acting on the recommendation of an archdiocesan review board, the archdiocese said in a statement. No other such recommendations are pending, the statement said.

Magnoni said he believed there had been just one allegation against Champagne, who has been on leave since June 2002 and is living in the Seattle area. The spokesman said he did not believe a lawsuit had been filed or a settlement made in that case.

Champagne does not have a listed telephone number.

According to the news release, he served as a parish priest from 1971-79, when he was named pastor of St. Michael Parish in Snohomish, where he served until 1999. He also served at St. John Bosco Parish in Lakewood and Immaculate Conception Parish in Steilacoom.

The Seattle Archdiocese covers Western Washington.

The release said the case was handled in accordance with church law and national norms established in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“I again express my deep regret for the harm done to all victims of clergy child sexual abuse and extend my personal apology to them and their families,” Archbishop Alex Brunett said in the release. “My hope is that by following due process and pursuing these cases to a decisive conclusion we have assisted the victims in their process of healing.”

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