Church abuse survivor speaks out: ‘my parents trusted I was safe and I wasn’t’

Mary Lynch
Mary Lynch

Eight women who were molested by a local priest as children have settled a lawsuit with the Seattle Archdiocese for $9.1 million.

The eight cases happened between 1968 and 1975, but attorneys say there’s the potential of many more cases involving former priest Michael Cody.

“When a priest gives you attention, you think it’s a really good thing — you’re special — and that’s really powerful,” said Mary Lynch, one of the women who settled with the church this week.

Lynch says 45 years ago, when she was just 8-years old, she was left alone several times with Cody, who her devout Catholic parents trusted faithfully and implicitly.

“I was put in a situation that my parents trusted I was safe and I wasn’t,” Lynch said.

She says Cody knew who to target .

“He was very good at manipulating the families that he should have been serving,” Lynch said.

Cody is one of 77 clergy the Seattle Archdiocese acknowledge sexually abused parishioners — abuse that goes back decades. In 1962 a priest wrote the Archbishop that “father Cody’s character is really pathological … he is now mentally and emotionally seriously sick.”

But the Archdiocese hid cody’s issues, moving him from parish to parish, from St. James in Seattle to Bellingham, LaConner, and eventually St. Charles in Burlington, where he met Lynch.

“If they hadn’t continued to move him from place to place, he would have never been at St. Charles in the first place,” Lynch said.

Lynch’s case is one of the eight settled this week for $9.1 million. All of the cases involved Cody.

“Now with this settlement we are hoping that they will find some measure of closure and hoping they will move forward in their lives,” said Greg Magnoni with the Seattle Archdiocese.

Lynch says she still has her faith, but she hasn’t been to church in 15 years. She says she’s speaking out to inspire others to do the same.

“He took away a lot of my self esteem, and you just have to kind of go to that raw core to move forward,” she said.

The settlement payouts come from church assets and liability insurance. Michael Cody was removed from the priesthood in 2005 and died last November in Las Vegas.

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