13 Nov 2008

Victims get little relief from priest abuse settlement


SPOKANE -- Admitted pedophile and former Spokane priest Patrick O'Donnell has agreed to pay his victims $5 Million even though he admits he doesn't have the money.

A settlement was confirmed in court Wednesday, one that an attorney for O'Donnell's victims calls a symbolic victory in that he doesn't have $5 Million and the victims will see very little money from the settlement.

Steve Barber waited six years for his day in court, the day that Patrick O'Donnell would take the stand and confess to sexually abusing him and others while a priest in Spokane. Unfortunately for Barber and other victims of priest abuse will never see that day.

Instead Barber attended a hearing Wednesday that ended his six year long legal fight.

"You try to get him into court to hold him accountable and all he has to say is ‘Oh I'm guilty' ... there should be more justice than that," Barber said.

O'Donnell avoided a civil trial scheduled for this week by admitting his sins and agreeing to a $5 Million settlement with 24 victims.

"I'm not excited about it and honestly might as well make it $20 Million ... crap he's not going to pay us anyway .... hell make it $100 Million ... make it sound good. No I'm not happy at all," Barber said.

O'Donnell's attorney released a written statement on his client's behalf that reads:

"Mr. O'Donnell agreed to the amount that was suggested by plaintiff's counsel. He wanted to put an end to this matter and not force the plaintiffs to relive this matter again in a projected 10-day trial. O'Donnell has previously expressed his apologies to all whom he has harmed and he continues to live with the reality that he personally cannot undo the harm that was done. If he could satisfy the judgment he would do so, but he cannot."

Last January O'Donnell was a seasonal employee at a western Washington Costco and living a gated community in LaConner about 40 miles north of Seattle. His home is valued at $275,000 but victims attorneys say they haven't decided if they will force him to sell the house. State law would allow him to keep $125,000 of the equity in the home and O'Donnell's retirement accounts are also protected from the settlement.

Barber says the money does little for him.

"What do I really want? I want to go back to when I was 13 and hope this never happened in the first place and that will never happen," he said.

O'Donnell was not present for Wednesday's hearing.

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