The Archdiocese of Seattle has settled a child sexual abuse lawsuit that had been scheduled for trial on Monday allegedly involving a former youth minister at Kirkland’s St. John Vianney Church.
The victim’s attorney, Michael T. Pfau, issued a news release about the settlement, for $635,000, on Thursday, and the archdiocese confirmed it for Kirkland Patch.
The news release said the victim, identified only by his initials, D.E., was sexually abused in the mid-1980s by the youth minister, and claimed the archdiocese hired the youth minister without a proper background check. It said a proper check would probably have found similar involvement with youth previously in New Orleans and “multiple concerns about boundary issues with children. One of them rejected him from being a campus minister because of those concerns.”
The youth minister was identified in the release as Jim Funnell, and the archdiocese confirmed that he did work at St. John Vianney in the mid-80s. The release said Funnell later was charged and pleaded guilty to a charge of child abuse.
Greg Magnoni, a spokesman for the Seattle Archdiocese, said he did not have details about the case, but did acknowledge the archdiocese had settled the claim against it.
"The greatest concern we have in these cases is that we bring closure for the victim," he said. "We try to make fair and just settlements, so they can find closure."
Attorney Pfau said the victim was from the Bothell/Finn Hill area, and does feel a sense of closure. "He views having come forward and gone through this process as a positive thing," Pfau said.
The lawsuit claimed that then Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen attended private meeting in 1985 about the emerging sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, but the archdiocese failed to adopt timely policies regarding sexual abuse.
The victim alleged that the youth minister began abusing him and other boys in the St. John Vianney parish shortly after the youth minister was hired, and that the abuse continued for more than a year.
The claim charged that the victim’s parent’s approached the parish pastor with a news story about the warning signs of sexual predators, but that the pastor ignored them.
Magnoni said the archdiocese has since adopted strong policies regarding the safety of all in its care.
“In fact, the archdiocese in Seattle has been a leader for more than 20 years in creating safe environments not only for youth, but all who we serve,” he said. “Our priority is the safety of everyone in our care.”