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Seattle Archdiocese, school district settle suit for $2.45M

SEATTLE – Seattle’s Catholic Archdiocese and a Tacoma-area school district have agreed to pay a $2.45 million to a man to settle his lawsuit claiming that both institutions allowed a known pedophile teacher to keep working with children.

A 48-year-old man identified as D.W. in the suit contended that archdiocese officials knew Edward Courtney had sexually abused dozens of schoolchildren when they helped Courtney land a teaching job at Parkland Elementary in 1980, the Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

Courtney repeatedly molested D.W. while he was in fifth and sixth grade, but Franklin Pierce School District officials allegedly failed to remove Courtney or notify police after receiving abuse reports, the suit claimed.

“What makes this case unique is that there is evidence that both the superintendent of Catholic schools and the superintendent from the public school system had information that Courtney was a danger to children, which should have led to further investigation and the immediate termination of Courtney,” said Michael Pfau, a Seattle attorney who represented D.W.

The archdiocese agreed to pay $1.5 million and the Franklin Pierce School District agreed to pay $950,000 in a settlement that came on the eve of trial, which was to start Monday.

Neither organization admitted wrongdoing.

In a statement Tuesday, the archdiocese said Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain hopes the settlement will “bring closure and assist the survivor in his healing process.”

The Franklin Pierce School District said in a statement they were disappointed that the actions of an employee who was terminated in 1982 had repercussions on students in their district.

Courtney, 82, who is retired and living in Honolulu, didn’t return a message from the newspaper seeking comment.

Courtney’s alleged abuse of dozens of children has been well-documented. Previous legal cases involving Courtney have resulted in multimillion-dollar settlements against the Seattle Archdiocese, which encompasses churches and schools throughout Western Washington.

“He’s believed to have abused at least 50 kids, and probably in excess of 100,” Pfau said.

In 2016, the Archdiocese included Courtney’s name on its list of 77 clergy and religious officials who have been “credibly accused” of child sex abuse since 1920.

Courtney, a member of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order, quietly had been removed from four Catholic schools across the country for molesting boys before coming to O’Dea High School in Seattle in 1974, according to court records.

 

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