Father Seamus Kerr, a senior priest at Holy Apostles Parish in East Wenatchee and three other Catholic priests have been exonerated in the settlement of a lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Yakima in 2019. The suit was filed by an Ellensburg man who claimed sexual abuse by priests at St. Andrew Catholic Church in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he was between 10 and 18 years of age.

Rev. Msgr. Robert M. Siler announced the settlement in a news release on Friday after the agreement was reached. Siler provided statements in a letter to Fr. Kerr from the attorneys representing the man identified in court papers as John Doe "On behalf of our client … we acknowledge that the allegations of sexual abuse and improper conduct made against you, including statements in court pleadings and the press, have proven to be false. We hereby withdraw the allegations and express our regret for any harm they may have caused to you and your reputation.”

Siler said the diocese has provided more than $10,000 in mental health counseling for the man and agreed to pay for an additional $5,000 in counseling services under terms of the settlement.

The 91 year old Father Kerr was granted a short leave of absence as senior priest at Holy Apostles Parish in East Wenatchee after the lawsuit was filed. Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson reinstated Kerr after reviews of the allegations, his personnel file, parish records and a unanimous recommendation for reinstatement by the Yakima Diocese Lay Advisory Board.

“I regret any abuse this man has suffered, and I am hopeful the help we are offering will be of benefit to him,” Bishop Tyson said. “And I am very pleased that Fr. Kerr has been fully exonerated. He has served the Church faithfully and well since his ordination in 1960.”

The Diocese of Yakima covers Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Kittitas, Yakima, Klickitat and Benton.

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