Former Walla Walla woman alleges priest sexually abused her

The abuse allegedly took place over two years in Walla Walla in the 1960s.

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SPOKANE -- A woman who grew up in Walla Walla has filed a lawsuit against the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane for alleged sex abuse she suffered by a priest at church and boarding school during her youth.

The 57-year-old woman, identified in the suit as A.D. to protect her identity, alleges that the Rev. William Elrod sexually abused her repeatedly during her eighth- and ninth-grade years at St. Paul's School for Girls in Walla Walla.

St. Paul's was a boarding school run by the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane and was associated with St. Paul's Church, where the woman attended services conducted by Elrod, who apparently no longer is living.

Kristi Philip, spokesperson for the Diocese, said Thursday afternoon church officials hadn't received a copy of the lawsuit and she declined to comment.

The abuse -- which allegedly started around September 1966 when the plaintiff was about 12 and lasted for nearly two years -- occurred at the church and in a room adjoining Elrod's office at the school, according to the woman's complaint filed in court.

The suit claims Elrod groomed her and used direct or indirect threats or promises to engage her in various sexual acts.

The complaint alleges the Diocese was negligent in that it knew or should have known Elrod was a pedophile, didn't properly investigate him and failed to adopt policies and procedures to protect children and the general community.

The woman's attorney, James S. Rogers of Seattle, believes Elrod has since died.

The woman -- who reportedly now lives in Alaska -- is seeking an unspecified amount of money from the Diocese for "severe and permanent harm" she suffered, according to her suit.

"She will never be the same because of the emotional damage she suffered," Rogers said in a statement. "When a church places a pedophile in a position of trust and authority over children, it must be held accountable for these preventable and horrific acts."

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court.

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