December 14, 2016
For more information, please contact Jason Amala at (206) 462-4339
Seattle Archdiocese Settles Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
SEATTLE – The Seattle Archdiocese recently settled the claim of a Spokane woman who
was raped in the early 1980s by a former janitor of St. John Parish and School in Seattle,
The plaintiff, identified as “A.W.” in court pleadings in order to protect her identity, was
raped in 1983 by Charles “Chuck” Siddons. At the time, A.W. was a ten-year old, fifth
grade student at St. John Parish and School in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.
Siddons worked at the parish and school as a janitor.
In her lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court, A.W. stated that Siddons approached
her at the end of the 1982-1983 school year and asked if she could help him with the locks
for the student lockers. A.W. agreed because “it was kind of a privilege that you got to do
something special around the school and be a part of helping out.” During a break in their
work, Siddons raped her.
A.W. went home and told her parents, and Siddons was immediately arrested. Less than a
month later, on July 5, 1983, Siddons pled guilty to indecent liberties with a minor. In his
guilty plea, Siddons admitted to abusing A.W. and stated “I do not want the girl to undergo
a trial. I wish to plead guilty.”
After filing a lawsuit against the Seattle Archdiocese in August 2015, A.W. claims she
uncovered a substantial amount of evidence that the Archdiocese knew that Siddons posed
a danger to her and other children. For example, a former vice principal for St. John School
testified in her deposition that multiple teachers told her that Siddons engaged in
“inappropriate conduct” with students when she first started working at the school. A few
years later, the vice principal witnessed Siddons rubbing a student’s breasts in the lunch
room. She testified she reported the incident to the school principal at the time, but nothing
was done.
A former St. John teacher similarly testified that multiple female students had complained
to her that Siddons made them feel uncomfortable and made inappropriate comments to
them when they walked past his office. The teacher testified she reported the students’
complaints to the same principal, but she was not aware of any steps being taken to address
A.W. is not the only former student to allege abuse by Siddons. While A.W.’s lawsuit was
pending, another former St. John student testified that Siddons sexually abused her. In her
deposition, the woman testified that she reported the abuse to her third grade teacher and to
the same St. John’s principal, but she claims nothing was done to protect her. The woman

alleged she eventually complained to her mother, who went with her to St. John School and
confronted the same school principal about the abuse. The woman’s mother testified the
principal responded by telling her that Siddons was “just being friendly.”
Another former St. John student testified that an unwritten rule at the school was that
students were not allowed to go into Siddons’ office alone, and another student claimed that
Siddons had pornography in his school desk.
In her lawsuit, A.W. alleged the Archdiocese was liable for the rape she suffered because it
failed to take reasonable steps to protect her from Siddons, despite knowing that he posed a
danger to her and other children. When the Archdiocese tried to have her case dismissed,
A.W. described the testimony of the school’s former vice principal and teachers, and
pointed-out the same witnesses testified the Archdiocese had no policies or procedures for
protecting children from sexual abuse. A.W. asserted the Archdiocese’s effort to dismiss
her case was particularly appalling given the fact that its teachers and administrators have
been mandatory reporters of child abuse since the early 1970s, yet the Archdiocese
produced no evidence that they received any training on their responsibilities as mandatory
reporters. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss.
Although A.W. reached a settlement with the Archdiocese weeks ago, she decided to speakup about her case after she read a message sent to St. John Parish and School by the
Archdiocese that she felt was misleading.
In the message, parishioners and school families were told about the settlement and were
told that Siddons was immediately terminated after A.W. reported the incident. The
message further stated that “[t]here is nothing in personnel records that indicates
information was available at the time of his hiring suggesting that he was a potential thread
to children.” But the message failed to disclose the testimony of the vice principal and
others that suggests the school knew for years that Siddons posed a danger to children.
A.W. believes the message directly contradicts the Archdiocese’s claim that it wants to be
transparent: “The Archdiocese has claimed it wants to be transparent about why so many
Catholic children were abused in its schools and parishes, but then a message is sent out
that makes it sound like my claim had no merit. How can you claim to be transparent if
you keep hiding the truth about what happened? And more importantly, how can we make
sure future children are protected if people are misled and lulled into thinking the Church
didn’t know anything.”
A.W. was represented by Michael T. Pfau and Jason P. Amala of the Seattle law firm of
Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC, who have settled claims on behalf of dozens of people
who alleged they were abused as children within the Seattle Archdiocese. Like A.W.,
Amala takes issue with the message sent to parishioners and school families: “The Seattle
Archdiocese should have acknowledged mistakes were made and used this settlement as an
opportunity to explain why it is so important that people report suspected abuse. By failing
to acknowledge complaints were made and warning signs were ignored, the Archdiocese is
perpetuating a false sense of safety and undermining the policies and procedures that are
now in place to prevent abuse.”
Pfau, who started representing abuse survivors in Seattle shortly after the Catholic abuse

scandal broke in Boston, hopes news of the settlement will help A.W. and other abuse
survivors: “A.W. wanted answers and I think we helped her find those answers. We know
Siddons abused other people and we hope A.W. coming forward will help those abuse
survivors begin to find their own closure.”