Dominicans to Pay Man $1.2 Million in Lawsuit

Washington Post/August 24, 2007

A group of Catholic friars has agreed to pay $1.2 million to a 20-year-old man who accused a one-time Washington area priest of sexual abuse when the man was a teenager and living in Germantown.

Under the terms of an agreement announced yesterday, the Dominican Friars, Province of St. Joseph, will pay the money to Brandon Rains, a former altar boy at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, where the Rev. Aaron J. Cote was associate pastor in 2001 and 2002. In a lawsuit that Rains filed against Cote, the Dominicans and the Archdiocese of Washington, Rains accused Cote of "harmful sexual conduct and contact" with Rains when he was 14 and 15 years old, causing him "severe and permanent emotional distress."

Cote could not be reached for comment.

"It is our sincere hope that this settlement will be a source of healing and reconciliation for all involved in these allegations," the Dominican Friars said in a statement, adding that anyone with similar allegations should contact the order's Victims Assistance Coordinator. Cote was removed from his job at a Rhode Island parish after the lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior Court two years ago.

"A.J. Cote is a serial molester-predator," said Jeff Anderson, an attorney for Rains, at a news conference outside St. Dominic Catholic Church on E Street SW. Anderson held a picture of Cote and Rains that Anderson said was taken in May 2001, about the time the alleged abuse occurred. In the picture, the two are smiling, dressed in red robes, and each has an arm around the other.

Rains's attorneys said the settlement concludes the lawsuit. The Archdiocese of Washington said it was not involved in the financial settlement.

At the time of the allegation, Cote "was not in any ministry with the Archdiocese nor has he been since," said a statement released by the archdiocese yesterday.

"We have no holding in this case," said Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

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