February 10, 2005

Parishioners question investigation of Yakima priest

Seattle Post-Intelligencer


YAKIMA, Wash. -- A group of about 30 church members from at least six parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Yakima has raised concerns about how the church handled an investigation of a Yakima priest.

The investigation began in September 2003 after photographs of nude boys were discovered on a computer belonging to the priest. The matter was immediately referred to the Diocesan Lay Advisory Board, which investigates allegations of sexual misconduct.

Board chairman Russell Mazzola, a lawyer, delivered the photographs to police the day he received them. The FBI investigated but declined to file charges, and the matter was referred to the Yakima County prosecutor's office last September.

About three weeks ago, County Prosecutor Ron Zirkle also decided against filing charges, saying the case did not meet federal or state statutes for children in sexually explicit conduct.

Through it all, church officials did not release any specifics on the investigation, and some church members now say the matter may not have been handled appropriately.

Posted by kshaw at February 10, 2005 10:57 PM