They say they suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of a pedophile priest. Half a century later, they aren't suing the church -- they're suing the state.
It has been a long, painful - often ugly - road for Kathy Mendez.
Sometimes you become physically ill to your stomach when you start remembering things, she said, pensively walking the streets of downtown Seattle.
Sent by her parents to live at Saint Mary's Mission School in Omak when she was just 11 years old, Mendez says she was routinely molested for over 2 years.
Holding back tears she says, Father Morse's face is what I remember. Not the other kids. Not my teachers. Just his face.
Father John Morse is accused of molesting at least 75 foster children at the school over the course of some 3 decades. Others at St. Mary's are belived to have abused nearly 400 more. All of themwereunderDSHS supervision.
Morse denies molesting children. He was never prosecuted for any crime because the statute of limitations has run out. He currently lives in a Jesuit retirement home in Spokane, under 24 hour supervision. A settlement with other victims earlier this year bankruptedthe Northwest Jesuit Order.
With no money further way to punish the church,Mendez and seven other Native American accusers are focusing on DSHS. They all share eerily similar stories.
The physical abuse started from the time I was in the first grade, said Dwayne Paul.
I lived with the shame and the pain for all these years, added Mendez.
We were told not to ever talk about it, said Theresa Bessette, as she wept.
They're suing DSHS, saying the agency should have known St. Mary's School was no place for children. Dwayne Paul, now 53, says he told his school counselor about the abusewhen his started at age 5.
She wouldn't ask me what was going on when I told her bad things were happening at St. Mary's, he said. They told me to stop making up stories.
These are admittedly badly broken people.
Fifty years after the abuse, they sit like timid little children as they tell their stories in the office of attorney Blaine Tamaki. They all say they've lived in fear of the monster coming out in them -- so much so --they've had a hard time simply hugging their own children.
I held my children back from me, away from me, said Mendez. I didn't want to touch them in anyway that would harm them.
As Mendez steps out of her lawyer's office and back onto the cold, wet Seattle street, she says the hardest part is realizing the road she walks is her's forever. No matter where she turnsthe roadwill follow her. There's no way to fix it, to ever make it right.