• Franklin Pierce School District to pay $950,000 for teacher's sexual abuse 36 years ago

    By: Amy Clancy

    Updated:

    Over the years, former Christian Brother and teacher Edward Courtney has cost various Catholic Archdioceses – including the Archdiocese of Seattle – nearly $17 million for his sexual abuse of more than 33 young male victims.

    On Tuesday, it was announced the Franklin Pierce School District will also pay one of Courtney’s victims $950,000.

    Courtney had a well-documented history of sexually abusing dozens of boys at Catholic schools in Illinois, Michigan, and at O’Dea High School in Seattle before he was stripped of his status as a Christian Brother then hired to teach at Parkland Elementary School in the early 80s, according to Seattle Attorney Michael Pfau, who recently sued the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Franklin Pierce School district on behalf of “D.W.”

    “They knew he was a danger to children and let him pass into the public school system without firing him or terminating him,” Pfau told KIRO 7. 

    >> Related: Names of child sex abusers among Seattle clergy released

    Pfau said, instead of reporting Courtney to police, the Archdiocese of Seattle wrote him “letters of recommendation” that led to his being hired at Parkland Elementary, south of Tacoma.

    Parkland is no longer a public elementary.  

    While teaching at Parkland for two years in the early 1980s, Courtney sexually abused at least two boys.  

    “M.R.” received $1.3 million in a settlement with the Archdiocese of Seattle last year.  

    “D.W.” -- a now-grown law enforcement officer in Pierce County --- also filed against the archdiocese and also sued the Franklin Pierce School District for failing to protect him from a well-known predator.

    >> Related: Map of churches, schools and hospitals in Washington where child sex abusers, serving as priests, worked on assignment. 

    On Tuesday, Pfau announced reaching settlements with both.

    “D.W.” will receive a $2.45 million; $1.5 million from the Archdiocese of Seattle and $950,000 from the school district.

    Joel Zylstra, spokesman for Franklin Pierce Schools, told KIRO 7 the district knew nothing of Courtney’s criminal behavior before hiring him.

    He said the district reached a settlement late last week because “it felt like the best scenario for the school district to be able to acknowledge what happened but also to move on and make sure we can continue to serve our students 36-years later, the best that we can.”

    Zylstra said $950,000 is such a large cost for the district

    Click here to read the district's statement.

    The Archdiocese of Seattle would not make anyone available for an on-camera interview with KIRO 7, but in an emailed statement said it hopes the settlement will bring “D.W.” closure. 

    Click here to read the archdiocese's statement.

    Courtney is now in his 80s and is reportedly living in Hawaii.

    Despite dozens of accusers and millions paid out on his behalf, Courtney has been arrested just once.

    He pleaded guilty in 1988 to a single charge of indecent liberties with a minor and was given a suspended two-year sentence.


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