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Jesuits settle Northwest sex abuse claims, will pay $166 million

Updated 3:17 p.m., Friday, Mar. 25th

Northwest Jesuits have agreed to pay $166.1 million 450 American Indians and Alaska Natives who were abused at the Catholic order's schools around the region.

The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus runs schools in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The claims are from victims who were students at schools in all five states.

Dorothea Skalicky, one of the claimants in the settlement grew up on the Nez Perce reservation in Lapwai, Idaho. That's where a Jesuit priest named Father Freddy abused her and dozens of other children.

“He had come from other places and so he was put on the reservation. You know, the higher-uppers knew that he molested other kids and decided to put him on the reservation because I'm sure they assumed little native girls wouldn't say anything.”

The province had previously settled another 200 claims. Then the organization filed for bankruptcy in 2009, claiming the payments depleted their treasury. But victims argued the province remained wealthy because it controls and owns Gonzaga University, Gonzaga Preparatory School, Seattle University and other schools and properties.

Besides the money, the proposed settlement also includes more than 25 provisions for the order's reorganization. It includes:

  • requiring a written apology to the victims
  • sharing documents with victims  such as their personal medical records
  • the church establish child-protective measures
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Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.