The Seattle Archdiocese will pay $9.1 million to eight women who said they were sexually abused by a former priest as children, according to reports Wednesday. Michael Cody, who died last year, allegedly abused them between 1968 and 1974 at churches in Whatcom and Skagit counties.
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain issued a statement saying he regretted Cody’s actions.
“Our first priority is the protection of children and healing for past victims,” Sartain said in the statement, according to the Associated Press (AP). “It is my firm commitment to build on the good efforts of the past and continue to take steps that will truly help victims of clergy sexual abuse to heal. This $9 million settlement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to acknowledge and address the devastating impact of clergy sexual abuse, and to encourage victims to come forward.”
Cody was named in at least one other lawsuit. Last May, the archdiocese agreed to pay $1.2 million to a woman from Skagit County’s Sedro-Woolley city. She had alleged that Cody molested her in late 1960s and early 1970s. According to the evidence showed during a trial, in 1962 the Seattle archbishop had received a letter from a psychiatrist diagnosing Cody as a pedophile who had sexually abused young girls, the AP reported. Cody was then reportedly transferred from King County to Skagit County.
“The evidence regarding Father Cody is overwhelming, and I don't think the archdiocese wants more bad publicity," Michael T. Pfau, a Seattle attorney for the women, reportedly said after the settlement. “The direct involvement of former Archbishop Thomas Connelly in placing this pedophile in parishes with full knowledge of his danger to children is truly disturbing.”
The archdiocese reportedly states that Cody served as a priest in “a number of parishes in Western Washington.”
Cody had petitioned to relieve himself from priesthood in 1989 and the Catholic Church officially granted his request in 2005.
In January, the archdiocese published a list of 77 clergy members, including Cody, who lived or worked in Western Washington and were known or believed to have sexually molested children.