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Washington AG investigates Spokane’s Catholic Diocese for alleged fund misuse in child sex abuse cover-up

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Washington AG investigates Spokane’s Catholic Diocese for alleged fund misuse in child sex abuse cover-up

News brief by FāVS News staff

On May 9, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson initiated an investigation into the dioceses of Spokane, Yakima and Seattle, looking into their potential misuse of charitable funds to conceal child sex abuse allegations.

A state petition to enforce this subpoena will be reviewed in King County Superior Court on July 12. Mary Dispenza, a survivor and co-founder of the Catholic Accountability Project (CAP), hopes the enforcement will be granted, allowing Catholics access to critical information about their church’s activities.

Clergy abuse survivors hail this move as historic by clergy abuse survivors, reports KHQ. They emphasize the significance of holding the Church accountable for these alleged cover-ups, viewing it as a step towards healing for victims.

Dispenza noted that this investigation marks the first instance of a sitting archbishop being subpoenaed for allegedly hiding abuse records, signaling that no one is above the law.

CAP has urged the successor to Ferguson, who is running for governor, to maintain the momentum of this investigation. They also called for the subpoena of other religious groups, including the Society of Jesus’s west province, the Christian Brothers and the Franciscan Friars.

In Spokane, abuse claims have involved not only diocesan clergy but also members of various Catholic orders, particularly the Jesuits.

The Catholic Diocese of Spokane has published a list of credibly accused clergy, while Gonzaga University has also grappled with its connections to accused priests. In 2018 Jesuits West also published a list of members credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1950. That list includes 130 cases in Spokane.

Despite efforts by Spokane Bishop Thomas Daly to sanction accused priests, criticism persists regarding his handling of abuse claims.

In 2007, the Diocese paid $48 million to almost 200 people who were sexually abused by clergy.

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