Seattle priest who slept with teen kept ministering

SEATTLE -- Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain met behind closed doors Tuesday night with parishoners at St. Bridget's Catholic Church, after the Archdiocese disclosed that its former pastor disobeyed an order not to practice his priestly ministry or appear in public as a priest.

The priest, Rev. Harry Quigg, was removed from active ministry in 2004 by Archbishop Alex Brunett, Sartain's predecessor, after disclosure of a longstanding sexual relationship with a teen. Quigg had been determined as "not suitable for priestly ministry."

The Archdiocese of Seattle made known facts of the case to the north end parish, which serves Laurelhurst and other well-to-do Seattle neighborhoods, last Sunday.

It told parishioners Quigg had been having sex with a 17-year-old - gender was not specified - in 1980. "Because the age of majority in 1980 under both canon law and civil law was 16, the (Archdiocese Case Review Board) concluded the conduct did not constitute sexual abuse of a minor," the statement said.

"Subsequent to 1980, Harry Quigg and the complainant engaged in a 15-year relationship. There are no other known allegations."

Brunett told Quigg he could not exercise priestly ministry, nor present himself as a priest, nor wear clerical garb. The priest was put into the Archdiocesan relapse prevention program.

"The information was not made public because of the determination that the sexual contact did not involve a minor," the Archdiocese statement said. "For the same reason, Quigg's request to respect his privacy was observed."

But, said the Archdiocese, it "learned recently" that Quigg "did not comply" with the stipulations laid down by Brunett. He has continued to say mass and exercise other sacraments of the Catholic Church.

The revelation has caused shock and anger at St. Bridget's. The church's pastor, Rev. Oliver Duggan, wrote in a "personal message" to his flock: "Harry Quigg is a friend of mine, I am disappointed and like some of you who know him, angry with him by what has come to light recently."

"I pray that when people have time to reflect on the situation, they will have compassion on him and consider some of the good things he has done."

Pat Callahan, a former priest - he followed Quigg as pastor of St. Vincent de Paul parish in Federal Way - attended a funeral at St. Bridget's in early February. "Harry also attended that funeral, sitting in the pews in a black suit and clerical collar," Callahan said in a letter to friends.

The Archdiocese delivered what is as close to a mea culpa as has come from Sartain's administration.

"The Archdiocese takes the abuse of power and exploitation of the vulnerable, whether minors or adults, very seriously," it said.

And, added the statement, "The Archdiocese will make changes to minimize the chances of this type of situation occurring again, including alerting parish leadership when restrictions are in place."

"The Archdiocese is undertaking a thorough review of the relapse prevention program and the steps taken to prevent a priest whose ministry has been restricted for any reason from violating those restrictions."