Sunday May 27, 2018
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A story in the Sept. 29 edition of the Yakima Herald-Republic about allegations of abuse against the late Rev. John Tholen contained several factual errors. The Diocese has not released information about this matter in the past due to a promise of confidentiality given to Rev. Tholen, a practice that was common at the time in order to aid the Diocese in its investigations.  The Diocese has decided, given the errors reported publicly, to release pertinent information.

In 1997, the Diocese received a report from a man alleging that Rev. Tholen had inappropriate sexual contact with him when he had accompanied Rev. Tholen on a trip to the Oregon coast. To the best the Diocese was able to determine, the reported abuse occurred in the summer of 1969, when the man was 18.

The Diocese later received a report from the man's younger brother that Rev. Tholen also had inappropriate sexual contact with him during a separate trip to the Oregon coast.  To the best the Diocese was able to determine, the reported abuse occurred in the summer of 1970, when the second victim was 17.  The Diocese provided information about both reports to the Yakima County Prosecutor's Office.  

Both men grew up in the Yakima area and attended Holy Redeemer Parish.  The Rev. Tholen taught at Carroll High School in Yakima from 1966 to 1975.  He was in residence at Holy Family Parish from 1966 to 1968, and at Holy Redeemer Parish from 1968 to 1975. 

While these reports were being investigated, Rev. Tholen asked for, and received, a medical retirement in 1997 based on ongoing difficulties with diabetes.  He was pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish at the time.  Conditions of his retirement included that he have no public ministry, and that he be regularly monitored by Diocesan personnel.  He fulfilled those conditions adequately until his death in January 2012. 

The Diocese reached a settlement in 1999 directly with the first victim.  The second victim filed a lawsuit in 1999 in King County Superior Court, and that suit was settled in 2000.  There was a general understanding among the many parties involved that the details would not be disclosed. Given the errors reported Sunday, however, the diocese has decided to publish the text of the agreements, with the names of the victims redacted.

Since the Dallas Charter was established in 2002, the Diocese has not entered into any confidential settlement agreements with victims of sexual abuse.  The Diocese has consistently been found to be in compliance with the Charter and its accompanying Essential Norms, most recently during an onsite audit of its programs and recordkeeping September 19-20.

The Diocese has a sexual abuse hotline for those who wish to report some incident concerning that issue as regards a bishop, priest, deacon or diocesan employee or volunteer.  The number is (888) 276-4490.