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Northwest Jesuits Agree To Pay Abuse Victims In Landmark Settlement

Hansi Lo Wang
03/25/2011

One of the largest nationwide payouts in the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis was announced today in Seattle. The Jesuit order of the Pacific Northwest has agreed to pay more than $166 million to nearly 500 abuse victims. KUOW's Hansi Lo Wang reports the lawsuit involves abuse cases from the 1940s through the 1990s.

TRANSCRIPT

The victims were sexually abused as children by Jesuit missionaries in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Nearly all of the victims were of Native American or Alaska Native descent. Blaine Tamaki is one of the lead attorneys for the victims.

Tamaki: "This is the only time that these Jesuit priests who've committed these crimes will pay anything for what they did to these children."

Tamaki says his clients in Washington state cannot individually prosecute their alleged abusers because the statute of limitations has run out.

Clarita Vargas lives in Tacoma, Washington and is one of Tamaki's clients. She says even after she left her Jesuit–run boarding school, childhood memories of being sexually abused by a priest continued to haunt her.

Vargas: "For years my parents would wake me up, then my spouse would wake me up, then my daughter would wake up, then my grandchildren would wake me up and ask me what's wrong."

Vargas says the night terrors have stopped since she started speaking out about her abuse. The Jesuits say they have no comment at this point about the settlement, and will continue to cooperate with creditors on their bankruptcy process.

For KUOW News, I'm Hansi Lo Wang.

© Copyright 2011, KUOW

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