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Spokane Priest Sexual Abuse Case Goes To The Jury

OPB | Feb. 9, 2010 8:27 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:08 a.m. | Spokane, WA

Contributed By:

Doug Nadvornick By Doug Nadvornick

A jury in Spokane is now deliberating a case of sexual abuse brought against a Catholic boys' group home. The verdict may determine whether nearly other 20 similar cases will also go to trial in the next few years. Doug Nadvornick reports.


This trial tests the allegations brought by one man — Kenneth Putnam — against the Morning Star Boys' Ranch and its former director, Father Joseph Weitensteiner.

Putnam claims he was sexually abused at the home as a teenager in the late 1980s.

During closing arguments, Putnam's attorney Tim Kosnoff said the case is bigger than one man's claims. He said it's about 50 years of covering up physical and sexual abuse at the home.

Ranch attorney Jim King countered that no one has yet proven a case of sexual or physical abuse at the home.

He attacked Putnam's credibility and that of five other alleged Morning Star victims who testified. At least four of those people have filed claims of their own.

That makes this a bellwether case. Before the trial, Kosnoff said the results of this and perhaps one ot two other trials might determine whether other cases against the group home will go to court or settle.

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