Announcements

May 23, 2013

$16.5 million Christian Brothers settlement

We have reached a tentative settlement in the Christian Brothers bankruptcy.  Under the proposed terms, the Christian Brothers and one of its insurers will pay $16.5 million to fund the settlement, and will also transfer ownership of other assets, including property.  The settlement would only apply to the Christian Brothers in North America and allows abuse survivors to pursue claims against other entities, including the owners of school where the abuse happened.

The Christian Brothers of Ireland, a Catholic religious order, has agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle the claims of more than 400 survivors of sexual and physical abuse.  The order will also transfer ownership of various properties and certain insurance policies that may provide coverage of abuse claims.

In April 2011, two asset-holding corporations of the Christian Brothers, The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc., an Illinois corporation, and the Christian Brothers Institute, a New York corporation, filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.  According to court documents, the corporations filed for bankruptcy because of pending sexual abuse lawsuits, primarily in Washington state.

Since then, more than 400 men and women filed claims with the bankruptcy court, alleging they were sexually or physically abused by a Christian Brother or at a school run by the Christian Brothers.   The religious order has owned or operated schools in the United States since the early 1900s.

Seattle sexual abuse attorney Jason P. Amala, who represents more than 80 abuse survivors in the bankruptcy, believes the settlement is vindication for his clients and others: “For years the Christian Brothers denied any wrongdoing, but this settlement acknowledges their role in decades of children being sexual abused at Catholic schools across the country. It not only begins to provide closure for our clients, but it will help offset the costs to their families and to society as a whole.”

Since approximately 2002, Amala and his law partner, Michael T. Pfau, have settled more than 50 claims against the Christian Brothers and the Seattle Archdiocese on behalf of men who claimed they were sexually abused at Catholic schools in Washington state, including O’Dea High School and Briscoe Memorial School.  The total settlements exceeded $25 million.  Pfau and Amala were pursuing ten more claims against the Christian Brothers in Washington when the religious order chose to file for bankruptcy protection.

Although the settlement applies to claims against the Christian Brothers of North America, it allows abuse survivors to pursue claims against other institutions that they allege are also responsible for the abuse.  For example, more than 50 of the men represented by Pfau and Amala have filed claims in Washington and Illinois against other institutions that they allege are also responsible for the abuse, including the Seattle Archdiocese and the Archdiocese of Chicago.  The settlement does not affect those claims, or the rights of other abuse survivors to file similar claims against the same or other entities.

According to Pfau, additional lawsuits may be filed against a number of other entities, including the owners of schools where abuse took place:   “In many cases the local diocese or another entity owned the school and collected money from the school.  Those entities are often just as liable for the abuse as the Christian Brothers.  Many of our current clients intend to file claims against those entities, and I would not be surprised if more people come forward with similar claims.”

In addition to the monetary settlement, the Christian Brothers have also agreed to a number of measures that are designed to protect children from sexual abuse.  Pfau says the non-monetary terms were an important part of the settlement:  “Our clients want to make sure history does not repeat itself.  This settlement will help ensure future children are protected.”

January 11, 2013

NK Recording of Appeals Court Argument

Hear our legal argument as we fight for justice in the name of our client in the Court of Appeals.

October 18, 2012

Boy Scouts release secret child abuse files — the “Perversion Files”

Our co-counsel in Oregon has released a database of 14,500 pages of the secret “perversion files” of the Boy Scouts.  The Seattle Times wrote an extensive piece on the files, including part of an interview with our Seattle sexual abuse attorney Jason P. Amala.

October 4, 2012

King 5 Investigates Boy Scout Perversion Files

Tonight, King 5 ran an extensive story on the Boy Scout perversion files in Washington state, including an interview with PCVA sexual abuse attorney Michael T. Pfau.
Michael has been prosecuting cases against the Boy Scouts for nearly a decade, and was one of the lead attorneys who took the Boy Scouts to the Washington Supreme Court in order to gain access to the perversion files.

If you or someone you love was sexually abused while in Scouting, please contact Michael Pfau or Jason Amala.

You can also visit http://www.boyscoutssexualabuse.com for more information on the perversion files and claims against the Boy Scouts.

September 28, 2012

Jury Awards Nearly $1.5 Million to Victim of Olympia School Bus Driver

ATTN: If you have a child who was a kindergartener named Stormy or Payton during the 2007/2008 or 2008/2009 school year, please contact us as soon as possible.

A unanimous Thurston County jury awarded a 7 year-old Olympia student $1.425 million for sexual abuse she suffered, because the Olympia School District failed to protect her from a pedophile school bus driver.  The child and her mother filed suit against the school district after she was molested by employee Gary Shafer in the 2010.  Shafer pled guilty in August 2011 to molesting the girl and another kindergarten bus rider and is now serving 15 years in prison.

The child’s attorney, Darrell Cochran, said that his client is only one of many students victimized by Shafer on board Olympia school buses, but that the district has worked hard to keep this issue quiet to avoid embarrassment.

“Gary Shafer admitted to sexually assaulting 30 or more school children that the Olympia School District has done absolutely nothing to assist or even identify,” Cochran said.  “The district won’t truly be held accountable until all those kids who are suffering in silence are found and given some help.”

Over the course of the two-week trial Cochran showed evidence to the jury that district supervisors and officials ignored numerous warning signs that should have told them Shafer was a danger to children on board the bus.  According to Cochran, the district broke basic safety rules by allowing Shafer to sit in the same seats with children, even with kids on his lap, all while being completely out of the driver’s view.

“Shafer rode on school buses all around the district for no purpose, other than to seek, groom and ultimately molest children,” Cochran said.  “Parents put their elementary school students on the bus under the promise that the district would see their kids safely to school.  The Olympia School District broke that promise.”

News outlets talking about the story:

The Olympian

KOMO News: Victim awarded nearly $1.5M in school bus molestation case

July 6, 2012

$8M Verdict Against Catholic Church

After a four week trial, a jury returned an $8M verdict in favor of our client against the Catholic church.  The jury found our client was abused for more than three years by Daniel Adamson, a former teacher and principal at St. Benedict School in Seattle, and that the Oblate pastor at the school, Henry Conrad, failed to protect him after multiple complaints by our client and other boys.

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2012/07/6-4-million-going-to-catholic-sex-abuse-victim/

April 12, 2012

Christian Brothers Transfer Assets

The Monterey Herald has uncovered evidence showing that the Christian Brothers appear to have transferred assets between corporations in an effort to shield them away from survivors of child sexual abuse.  You can read the full article here, including Seattle sexual abuse attorney Mike Pfau’s perspective on the timing and what it means for creditors in the Christian Brothers bankruptcy.

 

April 9, 2012

Christian Brothers Bankruptcy: Deadlines Approaching

A New York bankruptcy court has issued firm deadlines for people to file claims against the Christian Brothers.  Sexual abuse survivors must file a claim by August 1, 2012.  All other claims, including claims for physical abuse, must be filed by May 11, 2012.  People who fail to file a claim by the appropriate deadline may be forever barred from suing the Christian Brothers.

You can read more about our nearly decade-long fight against the Christian Brothers, including some of the damaging evidence we have gathered over time.  We have also created a separate website about the bankruptcy process, including the deadlines for filing a claim against the Christian Brothers.

January 25, 2012

$2.35 million settlement against WA DSHS and DOC

The State of Washington will pay a former Mason County woman $2.35 million to settle a lawsuit brought against the Department of Corrections and the Department of Social and Health Services for the State’s failure to protect her from a dangerous sexual predator.  Danny Dorosky, Sr., was a convicted child rapist on parole in the fall of 1990 when he began sexually assaulting the victim, who was only 10-years-old at the time.

Corrections officers responsible for monitoring Dorosky while on parole misclassified the 30-year career-criminal as a low-risk offender despite an order from the Parole Board requiring intensive management and supervision because of Dorosky’s prior sex crimes.  The Parole Board directed the DOC to conduct regular polygraph examinations to make sure he was not having contact with children.  Despite the directive, the DOC never supervised Dorosky and never enforced a single parole condition imposed by the Parole Board.

Left unmonitored, Dorosky ingratiated himself into the victim’s family and eventually moved into her home, where he continuously abused the victim for almost three years.

DSHS’s involvement in the suit stemmed from a report made by school officials to Child Protective Services on the young girl’s behalf suspecting abuse.  CPS learned over the course of its investigation that Dorosky was a convicted sex offender living with the girl’s family and that he was suspected of both physically abusing and sexually exploiting the child.  However, CPS failed to remove the girl from the abusive environment, never made contact with Dorosky’s parole officers, and simply closed the complaint.

In the summer of 1993, the victim’s father contacted local law enforcement about Dorosky after a visit from his daughter in California.  Mason County officials eventually arrested Dorosky, and he was later convicted of child molestation and rape.  Dorosky died in 2004.

About two years ago, the victim began looking for answers after her own daughter turned 10-years old.  She asked a local law firm that focuses on child abuse cases to help her, not knowing what they would discover.  After numerous public records requests, her attorneys realized the State’s agencies did nothing to protect her.  According to one of her attorneys, Jason P. Amala, “We told her we would help her find out how it happened, but we had no idea what we would find.  It wasn’t until the State said it had no more records on him that we realized it had no records because it did nothing to enforce this sex offender’s parole conditions.”   The woman filed suit shortly thereafter, and Dorosky’s parole officer eventually admitted she did nothing to supervise him.

The settlement comes at a time that Attorney General Rob McKenna is touting legislation to immunize the state from liability.  Darrell L. Cochran, a Tacoma attorney who represented the woman with Amala, testified against McKenna’s proposals in Olympia this morning.  “Our client was raped for almost three years because the state didn’t do its job.  The budget is a concern for everyone, but denying justice to people who endure a lifetime of suffering is not the answer.  Our communities and children will not be safe if the agencies charged with protecting us are given immunity for not doing their job.”

News coverage

The Olympian – State worker gets $2.35 million in settlement over child sex abuse
KOMO TV – State to pay $2.35M in abuse case settlement (VIDEO) 
WSOC TV – WA to pay $2.35M in abuse case settlement

January 5, 2012

Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations in Washington

Washington has a unique statute of limitations of claims based on childhood sexual abuse.

RCW 4.16.340

Actions based on childhood sexual abuse.

(1) All claims or causes of action based on intentional conduct brought by any person for recovery of damages for injury suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse shall be commenced within the later of the following periods:

(a) Within three years of the act alleged to have caused the injury or condition;

(b) Within three years of the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by said act; or

(c) Within three years of the time the victim discovered that the act caused the injury for which the claim is brought:

PROVIDED, That the time limit for commencement of an action under this section is tolled for a child until the child reaches the age of eighteen years.

(2) The victim need not establish which act in a series of continuing sexual abuse or exploitation incidents caused the injury complained of, but may compute the date of discovery from the date of discovery of the last act by the same perpetrator which is part of a common scheme or plan of sexual abuse or exploitation.

(3) The knowledge of a custodial parent or guardian shall not be imputed to a person under the age of eighteen years.

(4) For purposes of this section, “child” means a person under the age of eighteen years.

(5) As used in this section, “childhood sexual abuse” means any act committed by the defendant against a complainant who was less than eighteen years of age at the time of the act and which act would have been a violation of chapter 9A.44 RCW or RCW 9.68A.040 or prior laws of similar effect at the time the act was committed.

When the Washington legislature adopted the above statute of limitations in 1991, it made the following findings:

Notes:

“The legislature finds that:

(1) Childhood sexual abuse is a pervasive problem that affects the safety and well-being of many of our citizens.

(2) Childhood sexual abuse is a traumatic experience for the victim causing long-lasting damage.

(3) The victim of childhood sexual abuse may repress the memory of the abuse or be unable to connect the abuse to any injury until after the statute of limitations has run.

(4) The victim of childhood sexual abuse may be unable to understand or make the connection between childhood sexual abuse and emotional harm or damage until many years after the abuse occurs.

(5) Even though victims may be aware of injuries related to the childhood sexual abuse, more serious injuries may be discovered many years later.

(6) The legislature enacted RCW 4.16.340 to clarify the application of the discovery rule to childhood sexual abuse cases. At that time the legislature intended to reverse the Washington supreme court decision in Tyson v. Tyson, 107 Wn.2d 72, 727 P.2d 226 (1986).

It is still the legislature’s intention that Tyson v. Tyson, 107 Wn.2d 72, 727 P.2d 226 (1986) be reversed, as well as the line of cases that state that discovery of any injury whatsoever caused by an act of childhood sexual abuse commences the statute of limitations. The legislature intends that the earlier discovery of less serious injuries should not affect the statute of limitations for injuries that are discovered later.”

If you survived childhood sexual abuse, please contact us so we can explain your options and ensure your rights are protected.

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