Former Priest Accused of Abuse Worked as Victims Advocate for Seattle Police Department

A former priest who was accused of sexual abuse worked for years as a victim’s advocate for a police department in Seattle. Now, an investigation is finally being launched by law enforcement into the allegations against him.

The situation involving Garry Boulden in Seattle is exactly what the Associated Press and USA Today warned of in their investigations released in late 2019. Both outlets uncovered a disturbing truth – many clerics with allegations of abuse against them simply moved on to other communities and got new jobs that put them in positions of trust around the vulnerable. In this case, the allegations again against Boulden were investigated internally by Catholic officials in Seattle and Spokane and found to be "credible," but there was never any criminal investigation.

Seattle police became aware of the allegation in 2003 but did not investigate further, at the victim’s request. While we can understand that the survivor in this case may not have wanted to move forward, the fact that Boulden was employed in a position of power that put him in proximity to vulnerable children and adults should have caused the police department to do everything in their power to investigate the claims, we believe. Instead, the Seattle PD is only launching their investigation now, years after they became aware of the allegations. This is a belated move in response to public knowledge and pressure, but we are glad that it is at least being done.

This is a delicate situation involving a survivor who never wanted her story to be public and the need to ensure the safety of victims who come to the police for help. We call on Catholic officials to do outreach to every single parish where Boulden worked previously and urge victims, witnesses and whistle-blowers to come forward and aid the police investigation.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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