ASSIGNED TO THE HONORABLE TIMOTHY A.

BRADSHAW
HEARING DATE: OCTOBER 7, 2016, at 1:00 P.M.
WITH ORAL ARGUMENT

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SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
FOR KING COUNTY

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A.W.,

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No. 15-2-19425-9 SEA

Plaintiff,

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v.
CORPORATION OF THE CATHOLIC
ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE, a sole
corporation,

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT

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Defendant.
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I.

RELIEF REQUESTED

A.W. respectfully requests the Court deny the Seattle Archdiocese’s motion because
(1) the Archdiocese completely ignores the duty it had to take reasonable steps to protect its
students, including A.W., from being sexually abused at school, in the janitor’s office, by a
janitor with a well-known history of fondling students’ breasts, slapping their butts, and

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looking up their skirts; (2) a reasonable jury could easily find the Archdiocese breached that
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duty by doing nothing to protect A.W. from that danger, particularly given the overwhelming
evidence A.W. has presented regarding the Archdiocese’s knowledge of that danger, which
must be viewed in a light most favorable to M.R.; (3) a jury must decide whether A.W. filed
PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT CORPORATION OF THE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 1 of
36

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suit within three years of when she began to understood the causal connection between the
abuse and her injuries, particularly where the Archdiocese can cite no evidence that A.W.
began to make that connection until she started counseling in 2015.
II.

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BACKGROUND FACTS

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A.W. was sexually abused on June 10, 1983, by Charles (“Chuck”) Siddons at St.

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John’s School, an Archdiocesan school in Seattle. It is beyond dispute that A.W. was abused

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by Siddons as he pled guilty shortly after A.W.’s parents called the police and reported the

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abuse.

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A.W. filed this lawsuit against the Archdiocese because it knew that Chuck,

nicknamed “Chester the Molester” by students, was fondling students’ breasts, slapping their
butts, looking up their skirts, and dry-humping them in his office. Yet despite the

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overwhelming notice evidence, the Archdiocese never took any meaningful steps to protect
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A.W. and the other children from him. Rather than remove Siddons from St. John’s and
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report him to authorities, the Archdiocese allowed Siddons to continue to molest children
including A.W.
A.

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It Is Undisputed A.W. Was Abused by an Archdiocesan Employee at an
Archdiocesan School
St. John’s at all relevant times was, and still is, owned and operated by the Seattle

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Archdiocese. The Archdiocese has admitted in this case, there is “no evidence” that “St. John
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Parish and School are separate entities from the Archdiocese run by separate orders, and thus,
does not anticipate asserting a defense based on this fact.”1

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Amal Decl., at ¶ 2.

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CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 2 of
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The Archdiocese has also admitted in this case that “Charles Siddons was employed at

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St. John the Evangelist Parish and/or School as a janitor and/or maintenance worker in the

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1970s and 1980s.”2 More specifically, the records in this case show that Siddons was hired

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on or around August 23, 1973.3

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The Archdiocese tries to suggest in its motion that its “speculation” whether its

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principal ever took any steps to terminate Siddons after learning that Siddons was sexually

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abusing students by 1981. However, it is undisputed that the Archdiocese did not terminate

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Siddons’ employment at St. John’s until “June 13, 1983,” the day he was finally arrested for

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sexually abusing A.W., three days prior. 4

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B.
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Kate Brune was employed as a teacher at St. John’s from approximately 1975 to 2011.

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The Archdiocese Places Great Emphasis on the Fact that One of Its Principal’s,
Doug Arthur, is Deceased, But the Vice-Principal During His Term, Kate Brune,
Testified that She Was Hired to Help Mr. Arthur Oversee the School

During her time at St. John’s, Ms. Brune testified that the principal at St. John’s would

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commonly ask a teacher to serve as vice-principal to help oversee the school.5 Ms. Brune

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testified that she served as vice-principal of St. John’s during the entire time that Doug Arthur

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was principal. She believes Mr. Arthur was principal from approximately 1980 to 1984.6

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Ms. Brune testified that while serving as vice-principal, Mr. Arthur talked to her

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“about everything” at the school and “was very good about keeping [her] updated on what

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2

Defendant’s Responses to Plaintiff’s First Set of Discovery, Amala Decl., Ex. 1, at 14.

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St. John School Board Meeting Minutes, dated August 23, 1973, Amala Decl., Ex. 2.

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Defendant’s Responses to Plaintiff’s First Set of Discovery, Amala Decl., Ex. 1, at 14.

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Deposition of Kate Brune, Amala Decl., Ex. 3, at 5-6.

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Id.

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was going on.”7 She further testified that her responsibilities included being aware of the
“major situations” in the school, included allegations of abuse: “Well obviously he didn’t tell

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me everything, but I know the major situations. I know that if something related to, like the

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[A.W.] situation, [Arthur] was real clear and kept me informed about anything that was going

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on related to that.” Ms. Brune further testified she was “in charge of the building when he

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was gone.”8

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C.

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The Archdiocese Failed to Train Its Staff and/or Implement Policies and
Procedures at St. John’s for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse Until the Late 1980s,
Nearly a Decade After The Mandatory Reporting Law Came Into Effect
Although the law in Washington has provided that school personnel should report

suspicions of child sexual abuse since 1969,9 it is undisputed that in 1971, the Washington

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Legislature amended Washington’s reporting law to require that all school personnel,
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including teachers and school administrators, report reasonable suspicions of child sexual
abuse to authorities. Chapter 26.44 RCW (1971). The Legislature explained that the purpose

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in requiring school personnel to report reasonable suspicions of child sexual abuse to law

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enforcement and/or the DSHS is to “to prevent further abuses” to children. Chapter 26.44.010

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RCW (1971).

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Ms. Brune, testified that the Archdiocese, however, did not train its teachers and

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administrators regarding state reporting requirements or implement any policies and

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procedures at St. John’s regarding child sexual abuse until the late 1980s:

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Id. at 7-8.

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Id. at 41, 49.

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Chapter 26.44 RCW (1969).

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT CORPORATION OF THE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 4 of
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Q:

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A.
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Q.

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A.
Q.

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A.
Q.

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A.

When was the first time that you recall receiving any formal training
from the Seattle Archdiocese on any issues surrounding child sexual
abuse?

I would say late '80s.

Prior to receiving that training in the late 1980s, were you aware of
any obligation to report childhood sexual abuse to authorities?
I was not.
When I say "authorities," I'm referring to law enforcement or child
protective services.
Yes.
So just to make sure we are clear, before receiving the training in the
late 1980s from the Archdiocese with respect to issues surrounding
childhood sexual abuse, you were not aware of the obligation then to
report sexual misconduct that you may have observed at the school?
That is correct, I was not.10

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Jodi Desclos, a teacher at St. John’s from 1976 to the present, similarly testified that

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the Archdiocese did not implement any policies and procedures regarding child sexual abuse
prior to when A.W. was abused in June, 1983:

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Q:

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From the time that you started at St. John's until the time Charles
Siddens was terminated, you don't recall any written policies and
procedures regarding the issue of child sexual abuse, correct?
No.11

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A:

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The Archdiocese failed to train its teachers and administrators at St. John’s regarding

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the issue of child sex abuse, even though it admitted in discovery that, prior to when A.W.

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was abused, “it knew that an adult male who had sexually abused a child could pose a risk to

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abuse another child.”12

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10

Dep. of Brune, Amala Decl., Ex. 3, at 30-35.

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Dep. of Jodi Desclos, Amala Decl., Ex. 4, at 35.

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Defendant’s Responses to Plaintiff’s First Requests for Admission, Amala Decl., Ex. 5.

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D.

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Prior to When A.W. Was Abused, the Archdiocese Knew that Siddons Was
Fondling Students’ Breasts, Slapping Their Butts, and Looking up Their Skirts,
But No Steps Were Ever Taken to Report Him to Authorities, to Remove Him
From St. John’s, or to Protect Students from Him

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Ms. Brune testified that when she first started teaching at St. John’s in 1975, she heard

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rumors that Siddons had engaged in “inappropriate conduct” with students.13

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specifically, she testified that several of the junior high teachers warned her that when the

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female students walked past his office, he was “swatting their bottoms.”14 Consistent with

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Ms. Brune’s testimony, Denise Erickson testified that Siddons used to “grab” and “cup” her

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butt and give her butt “a little pat” when she was a 7th grade student at St. John’s in

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approximately 1977 and 1978. Denise testified that, on one occasion as she was walking out
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of Siddons’ office, a teacher told her “not to go in there anymore” and “to stay out of his
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office”15
A few years later, Ms. Brune testified that, while serving as vice-principal, she

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observed Siddons “rubbing” a student’s “breasts” in the lunchroom, which she considered to

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be “inappropriate” contact:

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Q:

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A:
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A:

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While you were at St. John's, did you personally witness any actions
by Mr. Siddons that you thought were inappropriate?
Yes, I did.
Can you tell us what that was?
It was when -- one year, I was on lunch duty, and I walked up and
down and amongst the tables; and at one point, Chuck had his hands
around the person's back, and he was rubbing his hands back and
forth across her breasts.

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13

Dep. of Brune, Amala Decl., Ex. 3, at 17.

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Id. at 17-18.

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Dep. of Denise Erickson, Amala Decl., Ex. 6, at 24.

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CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 6 of
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Q.

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… Do you recall approximately when you observed Mr. Siddons
touching this student? Approximately what year?
It was during Doug Arthur’s term. I know that, but I do not know
the year.

Do you know what years Mr. Arthur was the principal at St. John's?
I think it was five years after I got there. I do not know -- I know it
had to be after -- it was probably, like, '81 or '82.
So -- and he was there for three years. So roughly '80 to '83 or '81 to
'84?
Three or four years. I do not know how many.16

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Remarkably, the Archdiocese recently denied that it knew Siddons was molesting

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students prior to when A.W. was abused, contending that the “precise timing” of Brune’s

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observation is a disputed fact.17 The fatal flaw to this “argument” is the fact that Mr. Siddons

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sexually abused A.W. on the last day of school and he was then immediately arrested. It is
therefore undisputed that Ms. Brune observed Siddons fondle a student’s breasts in the
lunchroom sometime prior to June 10, 1983.

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Even more remarkably, the Archdiocese recently denied that Siddons touching a

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student’s breasts constitutes “abuse.”18 Ms. Brune did not testify that she saw this man merely

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“touch” another adult, or that his fondling was somehow open to misinterpretation. Ms.

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Brune testified that Charles Siddons “was rubbing his hands back and forth across [a girl’s]

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breasts.” There is no scenario in which this behavior is proper. The inappropriateness is
confirmed by Ms. Brune’s next action: she testified that she “yelled” at Siddons that she

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Dep. of Kate Brune, Amal Decl., Ex. 3 at 21-25.

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See Defendant’s Response to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel, filed September 23, 2016.

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Id.

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CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
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“didn't want him to ever do that again to anybody” and reported this sexual misconduct (i.e.,
sexual abuse) to the principal Douglas Arthur:

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Who did you tell?
I told Doug Arthur, the principal.
Did you immediately tell Mr. Arthur?
Well, as soon as my lunch duty was over. I mean, within the same
timeframe I did.

Do you know if Mr. Arthur took any action following the receipt of
your report?
I do not believe he did.
Why do you say -- why do you say you don't believe that he did?
Well, for two things: He almost always talked to me about everything.
We were very – he wanted to be sure that I knew what was going on
with disciplinary situations with students. And, secondly, I think, if he
had reported it, someone would have come back and talked to me, and
no one ever did.19

Despite witnessing Siddons sexually molest a minor student in the lunchroom, Ms.

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Brune testified she is not aware of any steps being taken to remove Siddons from St. John’s,

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to report him to authorities, or to protect the students from him.

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Another teacher, Ms. Desclos testified that she received several complaints from her
7th and 8th grade female students that Siddons made them uncomfortable and made

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inappropriate comments to them as they walked past his office. Ms. Desclos testified that
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although she reported these “red flags” to Mr. Arthur, no steps were taken to report Siddons to
authorities or to have Siddons removed from St. John’s:

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Q:

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A:

And then you expressed your concerns about those red flags to Doug
Arthur. Is that fair?
I did.

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19

Dep. of Kate Brune, Amala Decl., Ex. 3 at 24.

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CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 8 of
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Do you know why Doug Arthur didn’t have you report the concerns
you raised about Charles Siddons to CPS?
I don’t know.
Did you think that Doug Arthur would report your concerns to CPS?
I thought he would report them to somebody.

And after you reported your concerns to Doug Arthur about Charles
Siddons, did you personally observe any effort to protect the students
at St. John's from Mr. Siddons?
No. I say "no," except for the caution that I know that Doug gave to
Robin [Oswald] to stay away from his office.20

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Ms. Desclos explained that Robin Oswald was a student at St. John’s who spent “a

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lot” of time in Siddons’ office, and that Mr. Arthur told Robin “to stay away” from Chuck.21

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Ms. Desclos testified she is aware of no other steps that Mr. Arthur took to protect the

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children at St. John’s from Siddons, even though he was aware of the danger Siddons posed

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to them.

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Mike McGibbon served as an athletic coach at St. John’s between approximately

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1962 and 1992. He testified that the students at St. John’s reported to him that Siddons

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would “look up the girls’ skirts” as they walked up the stairs and that the students called

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Siddons a “pervert.” However, he testified that he never reported these complaints to anyone

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else at St. John’s or to the authorities:

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Q:

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A:

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[D]id children come to you and express their concerns about other
adults during your time that you were at…St. John’s?
A Well, in the Chuck Siddons case…the boys did tell me that he
would – his office was down the second floor, a stairway on the first
floor to the third floor, and I just remember what they called him.

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Dep. of Jodi Desclos, Amala Decl., Ex. 4 at 23-25.

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Id. at 16.

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They said he was a pervert, and the boys didn't like him even though
he was apparently a pedophile with girls and not boys. But they did
say that he would put up his chair by the door and look up the girls'
skirts as they went up the stairs….

Did you report what the boys were saying about Chuck Siddons to
anyone else?
No.22

Loretta Fletcher had five sons who attended St. John’s and her husband worked as a

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janitor with Siddons at St. John’s. She testified that her husband and two other men at the
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school were involved in the school’s decision to cut the door to Siddons’ office in half so that

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he would be more visible. She testified that this change occurred approximately two or three

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years after he was hired.23

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Jan Volk, a longtime employee at St. John’s parish, testified that she thought Siddons

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was “creepy” and similarly testified that the door to Chuck Siddons’ door was cut in half and

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that he was not allowed to have the door closed when there were children around during his
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employment at St. John’s.24

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Prior to When A.W. Was Abused, the Teachers and Administrators at St. John’s
Ignored Between 15 to 18 Complaints from a Student and Her Mom that Siddons
Was Grabbing the Student’s Breasts and Touching Her Inappropriately

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M.T, a third a third grade student at St. John’s in 1981, testified that at the beginning

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of her third grade year, Siddons began to sexually abuse her. 25 She testified that her teacher

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E.

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22

Dep. of Mike McGibbon, Amala Decl., Ex. 7, at 26-27, 31,

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Amal Decl., at ¶ 10.

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Amal Decl., at ¶ 11.

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Dep. of M.T., Amala Decl., Ex. 8, at 15. The Archdiocese fails to show how M.T. and D.T. are parties in
interest as defined under RCW 5.60.030. Neither are an “adverse party” suing or defending in this case.
Although M.T. filed a claim against the Archdiocese, the question of whether M.T.’s testimony is admissible in
her own case against the Archdiocese is not before the Court.

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would often send her to Siddons’ office and that when she entered his office, he would ask her
to sit down in his rocking chair. He would then begin to rub his hands up M.T.’s legs and

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thighs. M.T. said this happened on multiple occasions. M.T. further testified that by the
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middle of her third grade year, Siddons became “more aggressive” and “that’s when his hands

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started going up my shirt and down my pants, and he started rubbing himself against my

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backside.” M.T. explained “he was basically dry-humping me” in his office. On multiple

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occasions, Siddons put his fingers inside M.T.’s vagina.26

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M.T. testified that she told her third grade teacher that Siddons was “always putting
his hands on me; that he was making me really uncomfortable; and that he scared me.” Her

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teacher told M.T. “that’s ridiculous” and told her “to sit down.” M.T. then reported her abuse
to the school secretary who “laughed” at her in response and sent her to talk to the principal.

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When M.T. told the principal, Doug Arthur, that Siddons was sexually abusing her, Mr.

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Arthur told M.T. “that he would never do that kind of thing” and that she was “being

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oversensitive.”27

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After being ignored by the teachers and administrators at her school, M.T. reported

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that she was being abused by Siddons to her mom. M.T. and her mom later met with the
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principal where M.T. again reported she was being abused to Mr. Arthur. In response, Mr.
Arthur told M.T. and her mom that Mr. Siddons was just “being friendly.”28

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26

Dep. of M.T., Amala Decl., Ex. 8, at 17-20.

27

Id. at 19.

28

Id. at 21.

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M.T.’s mom, D.T., corroborates M.T.’s testimony. D.T. testified in her deposition that
M.T. told her that Siddons was putting his hands on her “breasts” and “vagina” in third grade

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at St. John’s. Upon hearing these complaints, D.T. told M.T.’s third grade teacher that she
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was being sexually abused and asked her not to send M.T. to see Siddons anymore. D.T.

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complained to M.T.’s teacher at least “eight or ten” times but nothing was done in response

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and the abuse continued. D.T. testified that she also told the school secretary “five or six

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additional times” that M.T. was being sexually abused.

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confronted the principal regarding the abuse and told him that Siddons “pushed [M.T.] up

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D.T. testified that when she

against the wall and put his hands on her breasts,” he told her “she was overly developed for

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her age and that she was exaggerating.” D.T. reported the abuse to the principal at least two
or three times and still, nothing was done in response to remove Siddons from the school and
the abuse continued:

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A:
Q:
A:

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F.

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Did the touching stop after you spoke with the principal?
No.
And how do you know that?
Because [M.T.] complained again.29

Siddons’ Misconduct Was So Well Known at St. John’s that Students Nicknamed
Him “Chester the Molester”
Barbara Howell is a former student at St. John’s and testified during her deposition

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that she thought Chuck was “creepy” and that her classmates him “Chester the molester” in
approximately 1975 or 1976.30
Christine Geddis, A.W.’s sister and a former student at St. John’s, testified that while

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29

Dep. of D.T., Amala Decl., Ex. 9, at 15, 21-27.

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she was a student, there was always an “unwritten rule” that students were not allowed to go
to Chuck’s office alone. Christine’s teachers would always send students in pairs to Chuck’s

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office. Christine also testified that there were rumors at school that Chuck would look into
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the girls’ bathroom at the school.31 M.T. similarly testified that Siddons would “lurk around
the girls bathrooms” and that “none of us ever wanted to be in there alone.”32

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Rory McGibbon, one of Mike McGibbon’s sons, testified that he played sports at St.

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John’s and that because his dad was a coach, he frequently spent time at the school. Rory

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testified that his friends, who were students at St. John’s, often talked about how Chuck had

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“pornography” in his desk. On one occasion, Rory’s friend took him to Siddons’ office

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where they opened the drawer and found “Playboy” magazines in his desk. Rory further
testified that it was common knowledge that Chuck “liked to check out the girls going up the

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stairs” which led to calling him a “pervert” and “creepy.” Rory also said that it was common

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knowledge at the school that Chuck had a “relationship” with a student named Robin

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Oswald. Rory said he “witnessed on more than one occasion” that Chuck Siddons would

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pick up Robin Oswald in his car after school. He explained he thought “it was odd that the,

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for the lack of a better term, the creepy, old custodian was picking her up in front of the
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school.” 33

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30

Dep. of Barb Howell, Amala Decl., Ex. 10 at 12-17.

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Dep. of Christine Geddis, Amala Decl., Ex. 11, at 64-67.

32

Dep. of M.T., Amal Decl., Ex. 8, at 22.

33

Dep. of Rory McGibbon, Amala Decl., Ex 12, at 12-38.

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Plaintiff A.W. Attended St. John’s and Her Family Was Very Involved with the
Church and School

3

Plaintiff A.W. attended St. John’s School from K-6th grade, beginning in

4

approximately 1978. Her family regularly attended St. John’s Parish. Her parents were very

5

religious and her mom was the parish secretary. As a child, A.W. was very involved with the

6

parish and she explained that, “[w]ith my mother being parish secretary, my sister and I were

7

recruited off into helping any special event that was going on.” A.W. further testified that her

8

parents were “very active in the community” and that her father “was on one of the church

9

boards” and that her family would often invite the priests over for dinner.34

G.

10

H.
11
12

A.W. first met Siddons when she was a student at St. John’s.

13
14
15

Chuck Siddons Used His Position at St. John’s, as Well as the Tasks, Premises,
and Instrumentalities, Entrusted to Him by the Seattle Archdiocese, to Sexually
Abuse A.W.
She recalls that her

teachers would occasionally send her to his office to get a tool or to inflate a ball during
gym.35

16

When A.W. was in the 5th grade, Siddons approached A.W. at the end of the school

17

year and asked her if she could help him with a project on the last day of school. Siddons

18

explained to A.W. that the locks for the student lockers needed to be reset for the following

19

year and checked to see if they still worked. A.W. said she agreed because “[i]t was kind of a

20

privilege that you got to do something special around the school and be a part of helping

21

out.”36

22
23
24
25
26

34

Dep. of A.W., Amal Decl., Ex. 13, at 31-32.

35

Id. at 70-75.

36

Id. at 79.

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The next morning, on June 10, 1983, A.W. met Siddons in his office at St. John’s to

2
3

help him with the locks. Siddons showed A.W. the large box full of locks that needed to be

4

reset and they started working. At some point, they took a break from working on the locks

5

and A.W. sat down in Siddons’ rocking chair. Siddons approached A.W. and began touching

6

A.W.’s breasts and legs.

7

penetrated her and began to fondle A.W.’s genitals. A.W. testified that Siddons then put his

8

fingers inside her vagina and that she felt a sharp pain. A.W. testified that she felt scared and

9

uncomfortable. A.W. recalls Siddons commenting on her pubic hair as “peach fuzz.” She also

10

remembers that she saw blood on Siddons’ fingers. A.W. testified that the room she was in

11

He eventually put his hand down A.W.’s pants and digitally

had a double door with a work bench in it and that there was another door leading to a back

12

room. She remembers Siddons walking into the back room to wash his hands but does not
13

remember anything after that. A.W. believes that her and Siddons went into the back room
14
15
16

and had intercourse. At the time, A.W. did not understand what Siddons was doing to her and
only came to realize what had happened during a sex education class in 8th grade when she

17

learned what sexual intercourse was. A.W. felt terrified, embarrassed, and ashamed to learn

18

she was no longer a virgin. 37

19

A.W. told her parents that Siddons had sexually molested her later that night at dinner.

20

A.W.’s parents reported the abuse to the police and to St. John’s. 38 Siddons was later arrested

21

and pled guilty to sexually molesting A.W.39

22
23
24
25
26

37

Id. at 78-89.

38

Id. at 91.

39

Siddons’ Plea of Guilty, Amala Decl., Ex. 14.

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As Chuck Siddons wrote in his criminal statement to the SPD on June 21, 1983, “I

2
3

have been employed at St. John’s School as a maintenance engineer for the past 11 years. At

4

the end of every school year I am required to go through locks for the student lockers to make

5

sure they’re in good condition and the combinations are tagged. On the last day of school I

6

had [A.W.] assist me with this task after school. During the course of the afternoon on

7

6.10.83 I began to tickle her while she sat on a chair. After a short time I put my hand under

8

her shirt and fondled her breast area. I then put my hand inside of her pants and fondled her

9

vaginal area.”40

10

Plaintiff’s Expert, Who Was the Former Superintendent of Public Instruction
During the Late 1970’s and Early 1980’s, Opines that the Archdiocese Breached
the Standard of Care

I.

11
12

Plaintiff’s expert, Judith Billings, is the former Superintendent of Public Instruction
13
14
15

for the State of Washington.

She has reviewed the Archdiocese’s acts and omissions

regarding Charles Siddons and believes the Archdiocese breached the standard of care by

16

failing report Mr. Siddons’ abuse of children or take any meaningful action to protect A.W.

17

and other children, including, but not limited to the following: (1) failing to report to law

18

enforcement its knowledge of repeated acts of child sexual abuse by Siddons, (2) failing to

19

conduct an investigation into repeated complaints of child abuse by Siddons and by failing to

20

place him on administrative leave during such investigation; (3) failing to terminate Siddons

21

in response to repeated reports that he was sexually abusing M.T. and other students; and (4)

22

failing to implement any reasonable or meaningful restriction to prevent him from using his

23
24
25
26

40

Id.

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4

position to sexually abuse A.W. and other children, despite its knowledge that he posed a
danger to them.41
J.

A.W. Did Not Begin to Understand How the Abuse Damaged Her Until After She
Started Counseling in 2015

5

A.W. first spoke to a therapist about the abuse in 2015, and has only recently begun to
6

explore the connection between the abuse she endured and the damages she continues to
7
8
9

suffer.42 In March 2015, one month after first contacting an attorney, she sought therapy with
Daniel Rial, PhD, to help her deal with the abuse and to understand how the abuse affected

10

her.43 Dr. Rial eventually diagnosed A.W. with “Other Specified Trauma and Stressor-

11

Related Disorder (Adjustment-like disorder with prolonged duration of more than 6 months

12

without prolonged duration of Stressor).”44

13

Dr. Jon Conte, a well-known forensic psychologist who has extensively evaluated

14

A.W., believes A.W. suffers from a wide-range of other psychological damages as a result of

15

the traumatic abuse and she has never previously been diagnosed or treated for those

16

injuries.45 He notes that “since thoughts about the rape have resurfaced…she has become

17
18

quite symptomatic. She has many of the characteristics of a person who has suffered a trauma
or sexual assault including…severe post-traumatic stress disorder.” He further notes that, “as

19

an adult with a long-standing history of not dealing with the rape and with certain
20
21
22
23
24
25
26

accommodations (e.g. needing a gun to feel safe, distrust of other people) to protect her from

41

Declaration of Judith Billings, Amala Decl., Ex. 15.

42

Deposition of A.W., Amala Decl., Ex. 14 at 110, 117-118.

43

Fairchild AFB Mental Health Records, Amala Decl., Ex. 16 at 1.

44

Id.

45

Dr. Conte Report, Amala Decl., Ex. 17, at 11-12.

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negative feelings about the rape she will be a difficult person to see in psychotherapy. Her
treatment is likely to be long and will require a skilled trauma-informed therapist.”46

4

The Archdiocese’s expert offers no testimony regarding whether, or when, A.W. was

5

able to connect the abuse to her injuries. Instead, she agrees that Plaintiff first sought

6

counseling related to the abuse in early 2015, stating “[a]side from one session of marital

7

counseling at Fairchild Air Force Base Medical Center approximately 7 years ago, [A.W.]

8

reported that she had no further counseling until February of 2015. At that time, she sought

9

counseling at the air force base because she had accessed the police and court records of Mr.

10

Siddons, and felt ‘very, very angry.’ She was angry that the perpetrator had pled guilty to a

11

lesser crime than rape, and felt ‘outraged’ that his report of the incident appeared to be a copy

12

of her own report… [A.W.] worked with a male therapist on base for several months, Dr.
13

Rial, but became angered and quit when he suggested that she begin to work on
14
15

forgiveness.”47

16

The Archdiocese’s strained effort to suggest A.W. has long understood how the abuse

17

affected her is not well taken, and at most illustrates why this is a question for the jury to

18

decide. For example, the Archdiocese relies on conversations in 2000 and 2004 between A.W

19

and her friend, Denise Jones, to suggest that A.W. fully understood how her abuse affected

20

her. There is no support for this contention in the record. To the contrary, Ms. Jones testified
21

that during the conversation in 2000 she talked about her own abuse with A.W. but that A.W.
22
23

“wasn’t ready to talk” about her abuse at that time, and it was “something that just was not

24
25
26

46

Id.

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discussed until her mom starting writing that book [last year],” and “she’s at a point in life
now where she can address [her wounds] and deal with them.”48 Likewise, Denise stated,

3

“[i]n 2004, Angela told me basically, in very vague terms, what happened, the incident as it
4
5

happened. Angela doesn't discuss feelings. She didn't discuss feelings with me back then.”49

6

Moreover, contrary to the Archdiocese’s claim that A.W. fully understood how the

7

abuse affected her when she suffered a panic attack after having sex with her boyfriend for the

8

first time at 19, A.W. testified that “[l]ooking back and understanding how it’s affected my

9

life… I believe that’s not normal for someone who is in a loving relationship to react that way

10

the first time they’re intimate” and that “I never fully started discussing and realizing the

11
12

effects of what happened until I started counseling recently, within the last year.”50
IV.

13

EVIDENCE RELIED UPON

This opposition brief relies upon the Declaration of Jason P. Amala in Support of
Plaintiff’s Opposition to the Archdiocese’s Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Amala Decl.”), as well as the pleadings, declarations, and other evidence
previously filed in this case.

14
15
16

V.

17

LEGAL ARGUMENT

18

Negligence, even gross negligence, does not sufficiently describe the underlying

19

misconduct of the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese’s attempt to evade liability and damages for

20

its egregious actions should be denied because (1) the Archdiocese completely ignores the

21

duty it had to take reasonable steps to protect its students, including A.W., from being
22
23
24
25
26

47

Dr. Bibeault Report, Amala Decl., Ex. 18, at 5-6.

48

Dep. of Denise Jones, Amala Decl., Ex. 19, at 83-84, 105, 115.

49

Id. at 53.

50

Dep. of A.W., Amala Decl., Ex. 14, at 117-118.

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sexually abused at school, in the janitor’s office, by a janitor with a well-known history of
fondling students’ breasts, slapping their butts, and looking up their skirts; (2) a reasonable

4

jury could easily find the Archdiocese breached that duty by doing nothing to protect A.W.

5

from that danger, particularly given the overwhelming evidence A.W. has presented regarding

6

the Archdiocese’s knowledge of that danger, which must be viewed in a light most favorable

7

to M.R.; (3) a jury must decide whether A.W. filed suit within three years of when she began

8

to understood the causal connection between the abuse and her injuries, particularly where the

9

Archdiocese can cite no evidence that A.W. began to make that connection until she started

10

counseling in 2015.

11

A.
12
13

The Archdiocese Had a Duty to Protect A.W. Because of Its Special Relationship
with A.W. and/or Because of Its Special Relationship with Siddons
The Archdiocese’s duty in this case arises from two alternative grounds (1) the special

14

relationship between the Archdiocese and its student, A.W.; and (2) the special relationship
15
16
17
18
19
20

between the Archdiocese and its employee, Siddons. N.K. v. Corp. of Presiding Bishop of
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 175 Wn. App. 517, 528, 307 P.3d 730, 736
(2013).
1.

The Archdiocese Had a Duty to Protect A.W. Because She Was In Their
Care, Custody, and Control

21

The Archdiocese had a special relationship with A.W. because she was a student and

22

“a school has a duty to protect students within its custody from reasonably anticipated

23

dangers.” C.J.C. 138 Wn.2d at 721; McLeod v. Grant County Sch. Dist. No. 128, 42 Wn.2d

24

316, 320, 255 P.2d 360 (1953). The Washington Supreme Court has previously explained

25
26

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that, “where a special protective relationship exists a principal may not turn a blind eye to a
known or reasonably foreseeable risk of harm posed by its agents toward those it would

3

otherwise be required to protect simply because the injury is arbitrarily perpetrated off
4
5
6

premises or after-hours.” C.J.C. v. Corp. of Catholic Bishop of Yakima, 138 Wn.2d 699, 727,
985 P.2d 262, 277 (1999), as amended (Sept. 8, 1999).

7

One week before the Archdiocese filed this motion, the Washington Supreme Court

8

squarely rejected the Archdiocese’s position that it does not owe a duty to A.W. simply

9

because the abuse occurred on school grounds after the “bell rang.” N.L. v. Bethel Sch. Dist.,

10

378 P.3d 162 (Wn. 2016) (The Archdiocese mistakenly cites to Division Two’s reasoning in

11
12
13

N.L. apparently failing to realize the Supreme Court issued an opinion on September 1, 2016).
In N.L., the Supreme Court rejected the school district’s argument that it did not owe a duty to

14

a student who was sexually abused by another student, a registered sex-offender, because the

15

abuse occurred “off campus.”

16

explained that “while the district's duty to exercise reasonable care might end when the

17

In rejecting the district’s position, the Supreme Court

student leaves its custody, nothing in McLeod suggests that the district's liability for a breach

18

of duty while the student was in its custody would be cut off merely because the harm did not
19
20

occur until later.” The Court similarly noted it “does not follow [from N.K.] that the victim

21

must be in the school’s custody at the time of the injury for the duty to have existed.”

22

Borrowing reasoning from the Idaho Supreme Court, the N.L. Court explained that “a school

23

district may owe a duty to its students, despite the fact that injury occurred off of school

24

grounds and outside of school hours” and held that “the relevant inquiry is to the location of

25
26

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the negligence rather than the location of the injury.” N.L., 378 P.3d at 162 (citation omitted)
(reversing trial court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of the school district).

3

As in N.L., here, a reasonable jury could conclude that the Archdiocese’s duty arose
4
5
6

while A.W. was in its custody and that the alleged breached (failure to take adequate steps to
protect students from Siddons) occurred while A.W. was in the Archdiocese’s custody:

11

The McLeod court had no occasion to consider whether the district's liability
was cut off once the students left campus because both the harm and the
district's alleged negligence happened while the students were squarely in
the district's custody. Here, too, the duty arose while N.L. and Clark were in
the district's custody. Similarly, the alleged breach in both McLeod (the
failure to supervise) and here (failure to take adequate steps to protect
students from a registered sex offender) occurred while the students were all
still in the districts' custody.

12

Id. at 162.

13

As the Court in N.L. made clear, the fact that A.W.’s injury occurred after-hours does

7
8
9
10

14

not relieve the Archdiocese of its liability to A.W. for the breach of its duty which occurred
15
16

while A.W. was a student in its custody.

17

The Archdiocese’s reliance on Scott and Rambo is misplaced. As the Supreme Court

18

in N.L. noted, “Scott is not an opinion of this court” and is not binding authority to the extent

19

it can be read to conflict with N.L. Id. The Archdiocese’s reliance on Rambo, an opinion

20

from the Court of Appeals of Louisiana, is similarly misplaced. See Rambo v. Webster Par.

21

Sch. Bd., 745 So. 2d 770 (La. Ct. App. 1999), writ denied, 754 So. 2d 971 (La. 2000).

22

Because the Archdiocese had a special relationship with A.W. that gave rise to a
23
24
25
26

protective duty, and the Archdiocese breached that duty while A.W. was in its custody, the
Archdiocese’s motion for summary judgment should be denied.
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The Archdiocese Had a Duty Because it Had a Special Relationship with
Siddons, an Employee at St. John School

4

The Archdiocese notably fails to address its duty based on its special relationship with

5

Siddons. A special relationship existed between the Archdiocese and Siddons because he was

6

their employee and they entrusted him with the tasks, premises, and instrumentalities that he

7

used to molest A.W. As the Court noted in C.J.C., “the relationship between employer and

8
9

2.

employee gives rise to limited duty, owed by an employer to foreseeable victims, to prevent
the tasks, premises, or instrumentalities entrusted to an employee from endangering others."

10

C.J.C., 138 Wn.2d at 721 (quoting Niece, 131 Wn.2d at 48).
11

Each of the tasks, premises, and instrumentalities the defendant entrusted to Siddons
12
13
14

triggered a duty to exercise reasonable care in ensuring the same were not used to endanger
A.W. This would include projects like resetting the locks for the school lockers (e.g., tasks

15

and instrumentalities) and the school maintenance office (e.g., premises). Siddons testified

16

that “[a]t the end of every school year I am required to go through locks for the student

17

lockers to make sure they’re in good condition and the combinations are tagged. On the last

18

day of school I had [A.W.] assist me with this task after school.” The basis for this duty is

19

well-illustrated by the Court’s rationale in C.J.C. that entities like the defendant cannot

20

“ignore the risk posed by its agents” or complain that children like A.W. were abused off

21

premises or after-hours:

22
23
24
25
26

Where a protective special relationship exists, a principal is not free to ignore
the risk posed by its agents, place such agents into association with vulnerable
persons it would otherwise be required to protect, and then escape liability
simply because the harm was accomplished off premises or after-hours. Under
these facts, the focus is not on where or when the harm occurred, but on
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whether the Church or its individual officials negligently caused the harm by
placing its agent into association with the plaintiffs when the risk was, or
should have been, known.
C.J.C., 138 Wn.2d at 724.
Although it undisputed that Siddons was employed by the Archdiocese, it worth’s

5

noting that C.J.C. specifically rejected the argument that agency between Siddons and the
6
7
8
9

Archdiocese was required: “an agency relationship is not required in order to establish a duty
of care. … a duty of control or protection also does not depend on a showing of agency.”
C.J.C., 138 Wn.2d at 724 n. 12.

10

Moreover, the documents and deposition testimony in this case establish that (1) the

11

Archdiocese had the authority to control the school and all of its staff, teachers, and janitors,

12

including Siddons, and (2) there was nothing that prevented the Archdiocese from exercising

13

its authority to do more to protect A.W. and other students from Siddons, including firing

14

him. The evidence in this case demonstrates that the Archdiocese had the authority, it just

15
16

failed to exercise it.
The defendant cannot accept the benefits of its master/servant relationship with

17

Siddons, and then repudiate its consequences. And even if they could, the focus is on whether
18

the defendant “negligently caused the harm by placing [their] agent into association with
19
20
21
22

[A.W.] when the risk was, or should have been, known.” C.J.C., 138 Wn.2d at 724. The
Archdiocese cannot distance themselves from Siddons when they placed their agent into
association with A.W. and they knew or should have known that he posed a danger to A.W.

23

The Archdiocese is alternatively liable to A.W. because it had a special relationship

24

with Siddons, particularly where he used their tasks, premises and instrumentalities to

25
26

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sexually abuse A.W., and where they benefited from his work as a maintenance person at the
school.
B.

The Archdiocese Breached Its Duty to A.W.

5

A jury could also readily determine that the Archdiocese breached its duty to A.W. by

6

(1) failing to report to law enforcement its knowledge of repeated acts of child sexual abuse

7

by Siddons, (2) failing to conduct an investigation into repeated complaints of child abuse by

8

Siddons and by failing to place him on administrative leave during such investigation; (3)
9

failing to terminate Siddons in response to repeated reports that he was sexually abusing M.T.
10
11

and other students; and (4) failing to implement any reasonable or meaningful restriction to

12

prevent him from using his position to sexually abuse A.W. and other children, despite its

13

knowledge that he posed a danger to them.

14

breached its duty to A.W. is generally a question for the jury. N.L., 378 P.3d 162

15
16

The question of whether the Archdiocese

In N.L., the Supreme Court rejected the school district’s argument that the act of the
school district was “too remote or insubstantial” to impose liability on the district for the

17
18

plaintiff’s sexual abuse. In rejecting the district’s argument, the Court noted that sex offender

19

registration was enacted in 1990 in response to “horrific crimes by known sex offenders.”

20

The Court reasoned that “[g]iven this background and the principles set down in McLeod, we

21

cannot say as a matter of law that a district's failure to take any action in response to being

22

notified that Clark was a registered sex offender was not a legal cause of N.L.'s injury. Sexual

23

assault by a registered sex offender is foreseeable, as is the fact that a much younger student

24

can be convinced to leave campus by an older one.” Id.
25
26

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The same reasoning applies here. The Archdiocese admitted in discovery that, prior to
A.W. being abused, “it knew that an adult male who had sexually abused a child could pose a

3

risk to abuse another child.”51 Like sexual assault by a registered sex offender, sexual abuse
4
5

by an adult who previously sexually abused a child, is foreseeable. In fact, Washington’s

6

mandatory reporting law was enacted, in part, to prevent “continued abuses.” Chapter

7

26.44.010 RCW (1971). Moreover, just as a younger student being convinced to skip class by

8

an older student is foreseeable, a student being be convinced by a staff member to stay after

9

school to help with a project is foreseeable, particularly where A.W. testified that it was “a

10

privilege that you got to do something special around the school and be a part of helping out.”

11

The Archdiocese tries to distinguish N.L. on the basis that the plaintiff “put forth

12
13

expert testimony regarding the standard of care at the time of the abuse and the need to

14

prepare a safety plan with respect to the sex offender student.”52 However, the same is true in

15

this case. Plaintiff submitted expert testimony from Judith Billings regarding the standard of

16

care and the Archdiocese’s failures to (1) report to law enforcement its knowledge of repeated

17

acts of child sexual abuse by Siddons, (2) conduct an investigation into repeated complaints of

18

child abuse by Siddons and by failing to place him on administrative leave during such
19
20

investigation; (3) terminate Siddons in response to repeated reports that he was sexually

21

abusing M.T. and other students; and (4) implement any reasonable or meaningful restriction

22

to prevent him from using his position to sexually abuse A.W. and other children, despite its

23
24
25
26

51

Defendant’s Responses to Plaintiff’s First Set of Requests for Admission, Amal Decl., Ex. 5.

52

Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, at 13.

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knowledge that he posed a danger to them. The Archdiocese has presented no evidence to the
contrary, and any such evidence would raise an issue of fact that should be submitted the jury.

3

Contrary to what the Archdiocese contends, the fact that Siddons was never removed
4
5

from the school is circumstantial evidence, not “speculation” that the Archdiocese failed to

6

take meaningful steps to prevent him from abusing more students. As Washington courts

7

have noted, “many times circumstantial may be more probative or reliable” than “direct

8

evidence.” State v. Gosby, 85 Wn.2d 758, 766, 539 P.2d 680, 685 (1975) (“It is simply

9

untenable to assume that circumstantial evidence is less reliable than is direct evidence.

10

Sometimes direct evidence is more probative or reliable, but many times circumstantial
11
12
13

evidence may be more probative or reliable.”). The testimony of Brune, Desclos, McGibbon,
M.T., and D.T. establishes that the Archdiocese’s agents and employees received numerous

14

reports regarding Siddons’ inappropriate behavior but failed to remove him from the school

15

until June 13, 1993.

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17
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Finally, the Archdiocese’s absurd claim that the “permission” given by A.W.’s mom
to stay after school is an intervening cause must be rejected. Not only have courts said there
can there be “more than one proximate cause of an injury,” but also, accepting the

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Archdiocese’s position would lead to absurd results. It would mean that a school would never

21

be liable for its negligence so long as a parent gives “permission” for the child to attend a

22

school activity, field trip, extracurricular event, or after-school activity. The Archdiocese

23

cites no law, nor could it, in support of its position.

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25
26

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
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CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 27
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1
2

For the foregoing reasons, the Archdiocese’s motion on Plaintiff’s negligence claim
should be denied.

3
4

The Archdiocese’s Motion Regarding Outrage Must Be Denied Because A.W.
was Within the Zone of Foreseeable Danger Created by Its Outrageous Conduct

5

The Court should deny the Archdiocese’s motion regarding outrage should be denied

6

because a reasonable jury could easily find in A.W.’s favor, particularly when all evidence

C.

7
8

and all inferences are viewed in a light most favorable to A.W. Dicomes v. State, 113 Wn.2d
612, 630 (1989) (a jury should usually decide whether a defendant’s conduct was outrageous).

9

More specifically, a reasonable jury could find A.W. has presented evidence of (1) extreme
10

and outrageous conduct, (2) intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress, and (3)
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12
13

severe emotional distress on the part of A.W. Robel v. Roundup Corp., 148 Wn.2d 35, 51
(2002).

14

The first element is satisfied upon proof that the conduct is “so outrageous in

15

character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be

16

regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.” Reid v. Pierce Cty.,

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136 Wn.2d 195, 202 (1998). A reasonable jury could conclude it was “utterly intolerable” for

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the Archdiocese to not only fail to report Courtney to the authorities, but to “laugh” at and

19

ignore repeated complaints by M.T. and her mom that she was being abused by Siddons.

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21

A jury could also easily find in A.W.’s favor regarding the second element of outrage
because there can be no dispute that the Archdiocese either intentionally or recklessly

22

inflicted severe emotional distress on A.W.

For example, a jury could conclude the

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Archdiocese knew its conduct would result in more children being abused where the
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25
26

Archdiocese admitted that it “knew that an adult male who had sexually abused a child could
PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT CORPORATION OF THE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 28
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1
2
3

pose a risk to abuse another child.” See Phillips v. Hardwick, 29 Wn. App. 382, 387-88
(1981) (“the actor must be aware that there is a high probability that his conduct will cause

4

severe emotional distress and he must proceed in a conscious disregard of it”). Despite the

5

fact that the principal, vice-principal, secretary, coach, and several teachers at St. John’s all

6

knew Siddons was sexually abusing children, they failed to take meaningful steps to prevent

7

him from abusing more children, like A.W. It is difficult to imagine a jury not concluding the

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Archdiocese and its agents consciously disregarded their knowledge that their misconduct had

9

a high probability of more children, like A.W., being sexually abused and suffering extreme

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11
12

emotional distress.
The Archdiocese does not seem to dispute that A.W. suffered severe emotional
distress from being sexually assaulted by Siddons in his office at St. John’s.

13

Finally, A.W.’s claim for outrage is not subsumed by her claim for negligence because
14
15
16

the Archdiocese cites no case that allows a defendant to prevent a jury from finding the
defendant acted intentionally. While the Archdiocese cites Rice v. Janovich, 109 Wn.2d 48

17

(1987), to suggest outrage is “only available where a plaintiff has no other remedy under tort

18

available,” that analysis does not apply here. Instead, Rice held outrage is available when

19

there is no “presence of the elements necessary to any other tort, such as assault, battery … or

20

the like.” Id. at 62 (internal quotations omitted). That analysis does not apply here because

21

none of the other torts allege intentional or reckless conduct—Plaintiff does not also allege

22

the Archdiocese assaulted him, or battered him, “or the like.”

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24

A.W. has a constitutional right to seek redress in the courts and the Archdiocese cites
no law that allows a tortfeasor to force its victim to accept a judgment for negligent conduct

25
26

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT CORPORATION OF THE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 29
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1
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rather than intentional or reckless conduct. Perhaps that distinction is not relevant to the
Archdiocese, but it is relevant to A.W. and the other victims of its outrageous conduct.
D.

Washington Law and Public Policy Weigh Heavily Against the Laches Defense

5

To avoid unnecessary repetition, A.W. incorporates by reference the facts and legal

6

argument regarding laches from her Motion for Summary Judgment on Defendant’s

7

Affirmative Defense, which was filed on September 9, 2016, and noted for hearing on the

8

same day as this motion. As outlined in that motion, the Court should deny the Archdiocese’s

9

motion regarding laches because the timing of A.W.’s claim falls squarely within the

10
11

applicable statute of limitations, which was designed by the Washington legislature to fairly
balance evidentiary concerns with the long unknowable injuries that result from childhood

12

sexual abuse. The public policy and law in Washington is to protect abuse survivors like
13

A.W., not the entities that allowed them to be abused.
14
15
16

It is important to point-out that this equitable defense is generally disfavored if a
plaintiff brings his claim within the statute of limitations. Brost v. L.A.N.D., Inc., 37 Wn.

17

App. 372, 375, 680 P.2d 453, 456 (1984) (“[a] court is generally precluded, absent highly

18

unusual circumstances, from imposing a shorter period under the doctrine of laches than that

19

of the relevant statute of limitations”); see also United States v. Mack, 295 U.S. 480, 489

20

(1935) ("[l]aches within the term of the statute of limitations is no defense at law”). This

21

concern is particularly true where the Washington legislature has made definitive legislative

22

findings of public policy. See Weyerhaeuser Company v. Commercial Union Insurance

23

Company, 142 Wn. 2d 654, 688, 15 P.3d 115 (2000).

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25
26

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT CORPORATION OF THE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 30
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3

In turn, the Washington Supreme Court has held that in enacting this statute the
legislature "specifically provided for a broad and generous application of the discovery rule to

4

civil actions for injuries caused by childhood sexual abuse." C.J.C. v. Corporation of the

5

Catholic Bishop of Yakima, 138 Wn.2d 699, 712, 985 P.2d 262 (1999).

6

In C.J.C., the Court recognized the Legislature’s articulated public policy in favor of

7

allowing victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring claims against religious entities like the

8

Archdiocese. Id. at 712-714. Given the legislative history, the Court concluded that there is a

9

strong public policy in favor of protecting children against acts of sexual abuse. Id. at 726.

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11

The C.J.C. decision directly disposes of the Archdiocese’s arguments based on the
timing of A.W.’s claims because in that case the abuse had occurred over thirty years earlier

12

and the perpetrator had died by the time the plaintiffs brought suit against the Church. 138
13

Wn.2d at 705. The Court allowed the plaintiffs to pursue their claims against the religious
14
15
16

entity, noting that "[n]owhere in RCW 4.16.340 does the Legislature articulate concern for
defendant who might be sued."

Id. at 713; see also Hollmann v. Corcoran, et al., 89

17

Wn. App. 323, 325, 949 P.2d 386 (1997) (noting the legislature enacted the statute in order to

18

address instances "where the victim of childhood sexual abuse was initially unable to connect

19

the abuse to mental or emotional disorders caused by the abuse”).

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21
22

The Archdiocese also fails to show how it is prejudiced from the asserted delay when
the following key witnesses are still alive and have been deposed: Brune, Desclos, and
McGibbon. The testimony of these witnesses establishes that the Archdiocese’s agents and

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24
25
26

employees, including its vice-principal, knew that Siddons was sexually abusing students but
failed to report him or remove him from the school until June 13, 1993. The fact that Siddons
PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT CORPORATION OF THE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 31
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1
2

was never removed from the school is circumstantial evidence, not speculation, regarding the
Archdiocese’s failure to take meaningful steps to prevent him from abusing more students.

3

Gosby, 85 Wn.2d at 766.
4

Allowing the Archdiocese to avoid liability through a backdoor laches defense would

5
6

defeat Washington’s strong public policy of providing redress to abuse survivors. Public

7

policy and the law favor a remedy for victims, not a shield (much less a shield grounded in

8

equity) for perpetrators and those who harbor them.

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10
11

E.

A.W.’s Claims Are Timely Because She Filed Her Claim Within Three Years of
When She Began to Understand the Causal Connection Between the Abuse and
Her Psychological Injuries
The Seattle Archdiocese’s motion regarding the statute of limitations should be denied

12

because their arguments are rejected by RCW 4.16.340 and every Washington case that has
13
14
15

interpreted it. At most, a jury must decide whether A.W. brought her claim within three years
of discovering how the abuse affected him. Hollmann v. Corcoran, 89 Wn. App. 323, 334

16

(1997); see also Haslund v. City of Seattle, 86 Wn.2d 607, 620-21, 547 P.2d 1221 (2001)

17

(defendant has the burden of proving a statute of limitations defense).

18

Washington has a unique statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse. In 1991

19

the legislature amended that statute to clarify that survivors may file their claim within three

20

years of the time “the victim discovered that the act caused the injury for which the claim is

21

brought.” RCW 4.16.340(1)(c). In adopting this statute, the Washington Supreme Court has

22
23

observed that the legislature "specifically provided for a broad and generous application of the
discovery rule to civil actions for injuries caused by childhood sexual abuse," and made “clear

24

that its primary concern was to provide a broad avenue of redress for victims of childhood
25
26

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT CORPORATION OF THE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 32
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1
2
3

sexual abuse who too often were left without a remedy under previous statutes of limitation.”
C.J.C. v. Corp. of the Catholic Bishop of Yakima, 138 Wn.2d 699, 712-13 (1999). Over the

4

past two decades, a number of Washington cases have provided trial courts with guidance on

5

the contours of this statute and what, as a matter of law, is not sufficient to trigger the statute

6

of limitations.

7

First, the statute did not begin to run until A.W. discovered the “full extent” of her

8

injuries. For example, in Cloud ex rel. Cloud v. Summers, 98 Wn. App. 724, 734-35 (1999),

9

the Court held that, as a matter of law, the statute of limitations for abuse survivors does not

10

begin to run until the survivor discovers the “full extent” of her injuries:

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12
13
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[T]he victim may know … that he or she was molested, and may even know
that some injury resulted, but may not know the full extent of the injury.... as
our legislature has found, childhood sexual abuse, by its very nature, may
render the victim unable to understand or make the connection between the
childhood abuse and the full extent of the resulting emotional harm until
many years later.

15

Likewise, in Korst v. McMahon, 136 Wn. App. 202, 209-10 (2006), the Court held a
16

survivor’s recognition in 1995 that the abuse resulted in “constant hurts,” “is something that

17
18
19
20

never goes away,” and “haunted” her for over twenty years did not prevent her from filing suit
in 2002 after she was first diagnosed with abuse-related PTSD. The Court rejected any
argument that remembering or feeling bad about the abuse was enough: “Presumably, victims

21

of childhood sexual abuse know that they have been hurt, but RCW 4.16.340 makes it clear

22

that a plaintiff’s cause of action does not accrue until she knows that the sexual abuse has

23

caused her more serious injuries.” Id. at 210.

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25
26

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT CORPORATION OF THE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SEATTLE’S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 33
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1

As noted in both Cloud and Korst, although A.W. has always remembered the abuse

2
3
4

and may have felt ashamed, disgusted, or angry about the abuse, as a matter of law, those
feelings are not enough to trigger the statute of limitations.

5

Second, the statute did not begin to run until A.W. understood the causal connection

6

between the abuse and his psychological injuries. For example, in Hollmann v. Corcoran, 89

7

Wn. App. 323, 328 (1997), the plaintiff sued his childhood sexual abuser. Even though he

8

was diagnosed with PTSD in connection with the abuse over five years earlier, his therapist

9

testified he was not capable of understanding the connection between his PTSD and the abuse

10
11

at the time he was diagnosed. Id. The Court explained there is no reasonability requirement
on when an abuse survivor discovers the damages related to the abuse: “The statute of

12

limitations is tolled until the victim of childhood sexual abuse in fact discovers the causal
13

connection between the defendant’s act and the injuries for which the claim is brought.” Id. at
14
15
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334. In doing so, the Court held RCW 4.16.340(c) “refers to the discovery of the causal
connection between a known act and subsequent injuries including injuries that develop years

17

later.” Id.; Korst, 136 Wn. App. at 207-08 (the focus is “on when a victim of sexual abuse

18

discovers the causal link between the abuse and the injury for which the suit is brought”).

19

The Court should deny the Archdiocese’s motion because A.W. did not begin to

20

discover the causal connection between the abuse and his injuries until at least 2015, when

21

she started counseling and began to understand how the abuse may have affected her. 53 The

22

Archdiocese cannot dispute that Dr. Rial did not diagnose A.W. with a stressor-related

23

disorder until 2015, and Dr. Conte has opined that A.W. is just beginning to understand how

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25
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53

Deposition of A.W., Amala Decl., Ex. 14, at 110, 117-118.

PLAINTIFF’S OPPOSITION TO
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MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 34
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the abuse affected her. For example, Dr. Conte states that she has “a long-standing history of
not dealing with the rape” and her treatment “will required a skilled trauma-informed
therapist.”54

5

The Court should deny summary judgment on the statute of limitations because no

6

reasonable jury could conclude that A.W. discovered the causal connection between her abuse

7

and her damages until after she started therapy in 2015, well within three years of when this

8

case was filed. At most, a jury must decide this factual issues, though the Court should grant

9

A.W.’s summary judgment motion because the Archdiocese cannot cite any evidence that

10

would meet its burden under the cases described above.

11

VI.

CONCLUSION

12

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff A.W. respectfully requests the Court deny the

13
14

Archdiocese’s motion for summary judgment.
Dated this 26th day of September 2016.

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PFAU COCHRAN VERTETIS AMALA PLLC
I certify that this motion contains 10,154 words
consistent with the parties’ reciprocal agreement
regarding Over-length Briefs.

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By _________________________________________
Michael T. Pfau, WSBA No. 24649
michael@pcvalaw.com
Jason P. Amala, WSBA No. 37054
jason@pcvalaw.com
Attorneys for Plaintiff

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54

Dr. Conte Report, Amala Decl., Ex. 17 at 12.

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MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 35
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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I, Bernadette Hacker, hereby declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of
the State of Washington that that I am employed at Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC, and
that on this 26th day of September, 2016, I served the foregoing along with the Declaration of

5

Jason P. Amala in support thereof, via email, first class mail, ABC Legal Messenger and/or
6

facsimile by directing delivery addressed to:
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Counsel for the Corporation of the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle:
Keith A. Talbot, Esq.
PATTERSON BUCHANAN FOBES & LIETCH, Inc., P.S.
2112 Third Avenue, Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98121
Phone: (206) 462-6700
Email: kat@pattersonbuchanan.com

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Certified By:
Bernadette Hacker
Legal Assistant

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