Spokane Diocese facing another abuse lawsuit

Spokane Diocese facing another abuse lawsuit


Erik Loney, KREM 2 News

Attorneys will file another lawsuit Thursday against the Spokane Catholic Diocese alleging it covered up years of sexual abuse.

The second lawsuit is being filed on behalf of eight new alleged victims of former priest Patrick O'Donnell.

One of those alleged victims is Steve Barber, who says O'Donnell threatened him with an eternity in hell when he was a seventh grade altar boy.

KREM 2 News
The second lawsuit is being filed on behalf of eight new alleged victims of former priest Patrick O'Donnell, pictured here outside his home in Western Washington last fall.
"Once he built up the trust of the family, then it was a matter of molesting the children telling them if they told anyone they would go to hell," Barber said.

Barber, along with seven other plaintiffs, are suing O'Donnell and the Spokane Diocese alleging the Diocese knew O'Donnell was molesting young boys but failed to stop him.

"It happened on a camping trip when he molested me, he went down my sleeping bag, into my pants and made me masturbate him," Barber said.

Attorney Tim Kosnoff, one of two attorneys for the plaintiffs, claims the Diocese would move O'Donnell to a new parish if someone reported abuse.

"It was a vast conspiracy to conceal this, to conceal the truth and not one, not once did a phone call go to police, not one call to CPS," Kosnoff said.

O'Donnell refused any comment on the first lawsuit last September and his attorney would not comment on the latest lawsuit Wednesday.

In the wake of a stream of allegations against former priests from the Spokane Diocese, Spokane Bishop William Skylstad had publicly apologized for what happened and is working on new sex abuse policies for the diocese.

But Steve Barber isn't suing for the money or an apology; he just wants an explanation.

"Part of the lawsuit is accountability," Barber said. "We want to know what's in the secret files what they knew and whey they didn't do anything about it."

The diocese could not comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.

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