NORTHWEST JESUITS TO PAY $166.1 MILLION TO ABUSE VICTIMS
Payment will be the largest religious order settlement in history.
In the largest settlement between a religious order and sexual abuse victims in the history of the United States, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province (the Northwest chapter of the Society of Jesus, a religious order based on Rome, Italy), and its insurer will pay $166.1 million. The settlement will also require the Jesuits to provide a written apology to the victims, and produce documents regarding their knowledge of the abuse that took place on their watch. The majority of the abuse took place in Jesuit operated mission schools, boarding schools, and on Indian reservations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Some Jesuits abused children while stationed in dioceses throughout the Northwest
In February 2009, shortly after Tamaki Law of Yakima filed 21 federal court lawsuits in the Eastern District of Washington against the Jesuits on behalf of abuse survivors, the Northwest Jesuits filed for bankruptcy protection in Portland, Oregon. The bankruptcy filing prompted more victims to come forward. Judge Elizabeth Perris presides over the Portland bankruptcy case. This is the first time any Jesuit province has filed for bankruptcy.
Representing 90 sexual abuse survivors in claims against the Jesuits, Tamaki Law represents more abuse survivors than any other law firm in the lower 48 states, and was instrumental in bringing the case to an amicable resolution.
When told the news of the settlement, Tamaki Law client Katherine (Hansen) Mendez, age 53, who was abused as a child at St. Mary’s Mission boarding school in Omak, Washington, expressed a feeling of relief. Mendez, a Yakama tribal member, was 11 when she was sent to St. Mary’s Mission by a state foster worker, and was abused until she was 12 years old.