A child sex abuse claim, which involved a Kirkland church, has been settled. A trial was scheduled to begin against the Seattle Archdiocese next Monday but the parish district settled for $635,000 on Thursday.
Former youth minister Jim Funnell at St. John Vianney Church in Kirkland allegedly sexually abused the plaintiff, identified by his initials D.E., in the mid-1980s for more than one year. It is said others were abused as well.
D.E. was living in Kirkland at the time of the abuse but now resides in Bothell.
Funnell was hired, which the plaintiff claims, during the time when former Seattle Archbishop Raymond Haunthausen and other Catholic bishops were collaborating on how to address the emerging sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church.
However, the Archdiocese failed to adequately warn its employees and timely adopt the policies regarding child sex abuse, and Funnell slipped through the cracks because church officials failed to conduct a proper background check, said the victim.
“At the very time the Archdiocese was implementing its sexual abuse policy, the Archdiocese failed to protect D.E. and other boys,” said D.E.’s attorney, Michael T. Pfau. “His personnel file from Louisiana contained multiple concerns about boundary issues with children. One of them rejected him from being a campus minister because of those concerns.”
D.E. alleges Funnell started abusing him and other boys shortly after he was hired.
In late 1986, the plaintiff’s parents read an article in the Seattle Times about the warning signs of a sexual predator and brought the article to the attention of the parish pastor, who they said ignored them.
The following month, the Archdiocese held its first training in response to the June 1985 meeting of bishops, but the plaintiff alleged the pastor and the Archdiocese still did nothing to investigate Funnell.
“The Archdiocese deeply regrets any harm to the victim by this lay youth minister,” said Greg Magnoni, the spokesman for the Seattle Archdiocese. “Although the abuse occurred more than 25 years ago, we recognize the pain it caused the victim and hope it will help bring healing. That is why we work toward fair settlements in such cases.”
Funnell was later charged with multiple counts of child abuse and pled guilty to one of the charges.
Pfau says D.E. “views the settlement with satisfaction.”
According to Magnoni, Funnell is the only person from St. John Vianney that has had an allegation of this nature.