Archbishop Chaput considers Spokane settlement, approach to sex-abuse claims


Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said Catholics in Colorado would examine Bishop William Skylstad’s settlement and approach to the sex-abuse cases in the Diocese of Spokane.

Archbishop Chaput said Catholics across the state have “noted with interest” the settlement reached this week by the Diocese of Spokane in its sex abuse cases, and the reported willingness of its bishop to support changes in Washington state’s criminal statute of limitations.

“The circumstances in Washington and Colorado — and the Diocese of Spokane and the dioceses of Colorado — are quite different,” said Archbishop Chaput. “Nonetheless, Colorado Catholics would welcome a discussion of the statutes of limitations regarding sexual abuse, as long as any revision of the law is fair, comprehensive, all-inclusive and equitable.” 

On Feb. 1, the Diocese of Spokane offered a $45.7 million settlement to 75 abuse victims. The diocese had filed for bankruptcy in 2004 after being hit with sex-abuse lawsuits, totaling more than $77 million.

Bishop William Skylstad publicly apologized Wednesday to the victims "for the terrible wrongs inflicted on you in the past." He urged Catholics to accept the proposed settlement, which will require money from individual parishes.

The Associated Press reported that Bishop Skylstad also agreed to support the state’s abolition of statutes of limitations on sex crimes. The settlement would therefore cover only those who have already sued the diocese. There is no provision for anyone who might bring a claim in the future.

Archbishop Chaput stated: “To be just to all parties, including the many Catholic families with children in public schools, any revision of Colorado’s statutes of limitations regarding childhood sexual abuse must apply equally both to public and private institutions and impose exactly the same financial damages, civil and criminal penalties, and reporting time frames both for public and private institutions and their agents. Anything less is inadequate law and prejudicial in its effect.”

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