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Eight sue Seattle U., alleging sex abuse

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

SEATTLE — Eight men, including a former altar boy from St. Aloysius Church in Spokane, have sued Seattle University and the Jesuit order, alleging sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who once taught in Eastern Washington.

The priest, the Rev. Michael Toulouse, also was named in a sexual abuse lawsuit that was settled last fall.

The latest case centering on Toulouse, a Jesuit priest who taught philosophy at Seattle University from about 1950 until his death in 1976, was filed Tuesday in King County Superior Court.

Plaintiffs allege that some senior priests in the order, including some who had worked at the school, knew Toulouse had molested minors. The plaintiffs contend the priests sometimes informed their superiors but did not act effectively to stop him.

According to the lawsuit, Toulouse was transferred to Seattle from Spokane after the province received a report from a man who said the priest had had sex with his son, an altar boy at St. Aloysius Church. The son, now grown, is among the plaintiffs.

Toulouse also was accused of having sex with another boy, a student at Gonzaga High School in Spokane — now called Gonzaga Preparatory School — and the head of Seattle University at the time knew of both sets of accusations against him, lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote.

The parents of some of the plaintiffs in Seattle reported the abuse to the Rev. James McGoldrick, a Jesuit priest and official at Seattle University, who said Toulouse would be kept away from the family, according to the lawsuit.

Another plaintiff, however, alleges in the lawsuit that he was abused after McGoldrick arranged for Toulouse to serve as a “big brother” to him.

A separate sexual abuse lawsuit filed by a man in 2005 against the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, which oversees Jesuit operations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, was settled in November for $350,000. The man had alleged that Toulouse had molested him in the Jesuit residence at the school when he was 12.

As of October, the province had spent about $8.5 million to settle some 40 claims involving various priests, and as of November, 30 to 50 claims were pending. Province officials told said Wednesday they did not have more recent figures.

The head of the Oregon Province, the Very Rev. John D. Whitney, issued a statement saying that if the accusations in the recent case “are deemed to be credible, we will strive to respond as we have: with a firm commitment to healing and reconciliation. We do not seek to hide or deny what has happened, but to discover and set right what we can.”

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