Category Archives: Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis
A year in the life of the Twin Cities archdiocese
Madeleine Baran · St. Paul, Minn. · Dec 26, 2014
From the link: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/12/24/archdiocese-cover-up
One of the biggest stories of 2014 was the MPR News investigation of the clergy sex abuse cover-up in the Twin Cities archdiocese.
A year ago this month, a Ramsey County judge forced Archbishop John Nienstedt to release the names of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children. In the months that followed, the archdiocese faced new revelations about how deep the cover-up went and who was involved.
What’s the current state of the scandal?
Much is still happening behind the scenes. Indications are that the archdiocese will file for bankruptcy, though it claims that it hasn’t decided yet. If the archdiocese does file for bankruptcy, all of the church’s finances would be under scrutiny by a federal judge. We don’t know where that would lead or how much money victims would end up receiving.
Has the archdiocese put procedures in place to ensure reform?
Not as far as we can tell. Over the past year and a half, the archdiocese has announced a new task force and appointed various priests and lay people to advise the church on handling abuse complaints, but the structure of the chancery remains the same. The archbishop holds all the power, and does not have to follow anyone’s recommendations. The structure that allowed this cover-up to happen is still in place.
It’s also important to note some context. This isn’t the first time this archdiocese has faced a clergy sex abuse cover-up. Each time, the scandal starts with an allegation that church leaders covered up abuse. Then the archdiocese apologizes, announces new policies, meets with victims and stresses the idea of healing and moving on. Bishops in the 1980s and ’90s said the same things that church leaders say now.
Is Archbishop John Nienstedt still in charge?
He is, but more of his subordinates are making statements and granting interviews on the scandal. In some ways, he is no longer the public face of the archdiocese.
About a year ago, Nienstedt authorized an investigation into his private life. It’s still not over. Nienstedt has promised transparency and accountability, yet the public knows almost nothing about this investigation. We recently learned that the archdiocese has hired another attorney to continue the investigation, but no one at the chancery will tell the public why.
What’s happened between the archdiocese and plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson?
No one had been a louder critic of the archdiocese for its handling of sex abuse cases than Jeff Anderson. He conducted news conferences where he condemned the leaders of the archdiocese and held up photos of priests accused of abuse. That’s not happening anymore. At a news conference, he shook hands with church officials and announced a new era of cooperation. There’s a more or less orderly process of working through claims from abuse victims.
What are victims saying?
We’re just halfway through a three-year window that allows victims of child sexual abuse a chance to sue for older claims. That window closes in May of 2016.
MPR News gets calls from victims who say they haven’t told anyone that they were abused, let alone decided whether to file a lawsuit. A lot of these people are men in their 60s, even their 70s and 80s. Almost every victim says he cannot understand why parishioners aren’t up in arms over the cover-up.
St. Paul police reopen child porn investigation aimed at priest Jon Shelley
St. Paul police are taking a fresh look into allegations a computer that used to be the property of the Reverend Jon Shelley contained pornographic images of children.
The case was closed last week, but during a press conference today, authorities said they’ve reopened it in light of new evidence presented to them by a parishioner of the St. Jude of the Lake church in Mahtomedi who acquired Shelley’s old computer at a rummage sale back in 2004.
“It was graphic. It was hardcore,” Ternus, referring to what he found on the computer, told MPR, adding that he planned to give the computer to his kids. “Just kind of freaked out everybody. I mean, this was something that a bunch of 6-, 7- and 8-year-old kids were going to be using, and this was what was on there waiting for them, if somebody hadn’t taken the time to go in and look for it. And apart from that, this was the computer from the parish priest where my family went.”
But archdiocese officials didn’t alert police. Shelley, a 52-year-old Minneapolis resident, ended up being sent to Maryland for treatment, but was placed back in ministry at the Parish of St. John the Baptist in Hugo when he returned to Minnesota in 2008. He’s currently on sabbatical.
According to MPR, a report on the matter prepared by investigators retrained by the archdiocese referred to “thousands” of “borderline illegal” images of young men on the computer. The Star Tribune reports that while Shelley’s attorney acknowledges the presence of adult porn on the computer, he denies it stored anything illegal. Discs containing images from the computer were ultimately stored in the basement of the archdiocese’s offices on Summit Avenue in St. Paul.
Jennifer Haselberger, the former canonical attorney for the archdiocese, claims she tried to alert Archbishop John Nienstedt about the images in the archdiocese’s possession. MPR explains what did or didn’t happen from there:
The archbishop never called police, [Haselberger] said. Months later, the Rev. Peter Laird, Nienstedt’s deputy, ordered her to hand over the pornographic images.
“I did as I was told,” said Haselberger, who resigned in April. “I went back to my office. I closed the door and I called Ramsey County.”
But officers with the St. Paul Police Department’s sex crimes and vice units couldn’t find the child pornography that Haselberger had reported, despite several reviews of the three disks of evidence the archdiocese had handed over. Police closed the case this week without charges.
Finally, the Strib details why the investigation has been reopened so soon after it was closed:
Haselberger’s allegations about the priest spilled into public view in a St. Paul courtroom last week in a separate case. Ternus then recalled that he had another copy of the images from the priest’s hard drive. [Police] picked up the copy on Friday. Investigators will review the images to determine if they are the same as those already reviewed, [a St. Paul PD spokesman] said.
Over the weekend, the archdiocese released a statement about the allegations against Shelley.
Since 2002 we have implemented a long list of policy and procedural reforms to clarify guidelines and strengthen enforcement. Some of the actions we have taken include completing more than 3,000 adult safe environment training sessions for approximately 70,000 adults; conducting 105,000 background checks on clergy, staff and volunteers; and providing over 100,000 children with age-appropriate lessons to help keep them safe.
As a further demonstration of our commitment to handling these matters aggressively and consistently, we have formed a special task force and charged them with conducting a full review of our policies and practices. When the report is complete, the findings and recommendations will be released publicly.
We are deeply sorry for any harm that has come from clergy misconduct. Eliminating any form of abuse is the highest priority for the Archdiocese. Our record is not perfect, but we have made great progress, and we are determined to do whatever is necessary to eliminate this problem.
Archbishop John Nienstedt apologies for priest sexual abuse, sort of
During remarks made at Our Lady of Grace Church in Edina yesterday, John Nienstedt, archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, apologized for not doing more to root out sexual abusers from his church and for taking inadequate measures to prevent priests from engaging in sexually abusive behavior.
But Nienstedt’s apology was measured, as he made sure to mention that he thought the Catholic church sex scandal was a thing of the past when he became archbishop in April 2007.
“When I arrived here seven years ago, one of the first things I was told was that this whole issue of clerical sex abuse had been taken care of and I didn’t have to worry about it,” Nienstedt told reporters during a brief news conference between the two masses at which he spoke (via the Star Tribune). “Unfortunately I believed that… And so my biggest apology today is to say I overlooked this. I should have investigated it a lot more than I did. When the story started to break at the end of September, I was as surprised as anyone else.”
Nienstedt delivered the same remarks at each of the two masses. He told parishioners he’s “here to apologize for the indignation that you justifiably feel. You deserve better.”
“The negative news reports about past incidents of clerical sexual abuse in this local church have rightly been met with shame, embarrassment and outrage that such heinous acts could be perpetrated by men who had taken priestly vows as well as bishops who failed to remove them from ministry,” Nienstedt continued, adding that “progress is being made in reducing the incidence of such terrible misconduct. There is reason, even now, to be hopeful.”
But one local Catholic official — Reverend Mike Tegeder, pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis — said Nienstedt’s public apology isn’t enough.
“The fact that he says he just accepted what he was told seems to be a question of his leadership,” Tegeder, who has previously called for Nienstedy to resign, told the Strib. “That’s not an excuse. He had the responsibility to really search that out.”
New release reveals alleged pedo-priest was moved around the state
The Diocese of Winona released the names of 14 priests Monday, adding to a growing list of suspected pedophiles throughout the state and confirming what some attorneys and clergy already knew: For decades the Rev. Thomas Adamson moved from parish to parish in the shadow of sexual abuse.
“It is a difficult time for the Church in the Diocese of Winona,” reads a statement. “It is also a time of hope which presents an opportunity to heal and continue moving forward.”
Adamson now appears on both lists produced by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona. According to a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County court, he molested more than 20 boys between 1964 and 1984, when he was finally suspended from the ministry.
On one occasion, in the late 1960s, he allegedly asked two boys to disrobe. In 1974, he admitted to having touched another boy’s genitals at a YMCA, according to the lawsuit. Police were never called.
Midway through his tenure, in 1975, he was dumped on the parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park (and later the Immaculate Conception Church in Columbia Heights). At the time, the lawsuit says, Winona Bishop Loras Watters told Archbishop John Roach that Adamson was being transferred because he needed counseling.
“Despite these clear indications of danger,” attorneys wrote, “Archdiocese Officials took no steps to discover the specific nature of Adamson’s problems or whether he was fit to work with children.”
Adamson is 80 years old and reportedly living in Rochester. We’ve been unable to reach him independently and attempted to speak with him through the archdiocese. We also await a request to speak with church attorneys about several allegations laid out in the lawsuit involving Adamson.
Jim Keenan, a 46-year-old man who claims to have been abused by Adamson as a teenager, criticized church officials at a recent press conference for having taken this long to acknowledge the problem. For years church officials in Winona and St. Paul resisted calls to name names. A judge put an end to that last month.
“Try to put your hands behind the idea that someone has to force a religious organization to protect children,” Keenan said. “That’s crazy.”
The Winona list comes one day after Archbishop John Nienstedt apologized to parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Church in Edina for not having done more to root out abusers. When he became archbishop in 2007, he said, he’d been told the dark dealings were a thing of the past.
Mike Finnegan, a St. Paul attorney representing several abuse victims, disagrees with Nienstedt’s version of reality. As head honcho, Nienstedt was well aware of the complaints in recent years against John Shelly (child porn), Michael Keating (abuse) and Curtis Wehmeyer (child porn and abuse) and even delayed their expulsion from the ministry, Finnegan said.
“He failed to take any personal responsibility or even acknowledge the serious failures that he’s made in handling child sex abuse,” Finnegan added. “Until he does that, we haven’t come close to a true accountability.”
It’s unclear how Nienstedt’s word games will affect ongoing criminal investigations. St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla declined to comment on the significance of Sunday’s mea culpa, saying detectives were preoccupied with finding victims. A “handful or less” have come forward, Padilla said, since the archdiocese’s list was released Dec. 5.
“We’re going to do everything we can to treat their cases with the respect they deserve,” he added.
Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on church officials in other parts of the state to release their own lists, which were produced privately about a decade ago. For instance, the Diocese of St. Cloud has yet to release 26 names and the Diocese of Duluth has yet to release 17.
Last week, St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville voluntarily released the names of 18 monks who, in the monastery’s own words, “likely have offended against minors.” Seven of those men are dead, two have been “dispensed from their religious vows” and — remarkably — nine are still toiling away “under supervised safety plans.”
Victims advocates complaint that the list doesn’t include four previously named monks — John Eidenschink, Steven Lilly, James Kelly and Isaac Connolly — and a former abbot, now deceased, Timothy Kelly.
Brother Aelred Senna, an abbey spokesman, did not return a message seeking comment. However, a statement he previously released notes that the task of compiling and releasing the list was
complicated by the passage of time, the deaths of some of those involved and sometimes incomplete accounts of the past. Even so, we are including all 18 names to provide as complete of a list as we can to acknowledge the pain suffered by victims.
Finnegan, the attorney, said his law firm has been in touch with police about the allegations of the abbey monks.
“It alarms us that these men are still on the campus up there at St. John’s with hundreds of students around,” he said. “They can’t possibly monitor these men 24 hours a day.”
The list released Monday by the Diocese of Winona. (Assignment details for anyone other than Adamson can be found by clicking on the name.)
Thomas P. Adamson
Date of Birth: July 12, 1933
Date of Ordination: May 31, 1958
June 13, 1958 – Saint Casimir, Winona, MN
June 13, 1958 – Cotter High School, Winona, MN
June 16, 1961 – Saint Adrian, Adrian, MN
June 16, 1961 – Saint Adrian High School, Adrian, MN
August 16, 1962 – Lourdes High School, Rochester, MN
August 20, 1963 – Saint John’s, Caledonia, MN
November 30, 1964 – Lourdes High School, Rochester, MN
June 8, 1966 – Saint Clement, Hammond, MN
June 15, 1967 – Saint Theodore, Albert Lea, MN
August 14, 1968 – Saint Lawrence, Fountain, MN and Saint Kilian, Wykoff, MN
June 24, 1971 – Saint Francis of Assisi, Rochester, MN
June 17, 1976 – Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Paul Park, MN
1979 – Immaculate Conception Church, Columbia Heights, MN
Ministerial Status: Suspended from ministry in 1984 and laicized (2009)
Current Address: Rochester, MN
Sylvester F. Brown – Deceased 2010
Joseph C. Cashman – Permanently removed from ministry in 1992; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal
Louis G. Cook – Deceased 2004
William D. Curtis – Deceased 2001
John R. Feiten – Deceased 2001
Richard E. Hatch – Deceased 2005
Ferdinand L. Kaiser – Deceased 1973
Jack L. Krough – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal
Michael J. Kuisle – Deceased 1971
James W. Lennon -Deceased 2000
Leland J. Smith – Permanently removed from ministry in 1994; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal
Robert H. Taylor – Deceased 2012
Leo Charles Koppala – Administrative leave pending outcome of criminal proceedings in Faribault County, Minnesota
The accused monks of St. John’s Abbey, the first nine of whom are still active:
Andre Bennett – deceased
Robert Blumeyer – deceased
Cosmas Dahlheimer – deceased
Othmar Hohmann – deceased
Dominic Keller – deceased
Pirmin Wendt – deceased
Bruce Wollmering – deceased
Francis Hoefgen – no longer at the abbey
John Kelly – no longer at the abbey
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League being sued for defamation against priest abuse survivor
Missouri (USA): Catholic church dares to defame a man after he accuses priest of sex abuse, claiming he is a drug-abusing murderer
INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI (USA) — The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights defamed a man who says he is a victim of priestly sex abuse as a drug-abusing murderer and a Catholic-hating bigot, the man claims in court.
Jon David Couzens Jr. sued The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, its President William Donohue, the KC Catholic League, KC Catholic League President Joe McLiney and KC Catholic League Capacity Secretary James O’Laughlin, in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Couzens claims Donohue defamed him in statements responding to the Kansas City Star’s three-part series on priestly abuse, written by Judy Thomas in December 2011.
The series centered around Couzens’ claims – and subsequent lawsuit against the KC Diocese, Msgr. Thomas O’Brien and Fr. Isaac True – that he and three other altar boys, one of whom committed suicide, were sexually abused in the early 1980s.
“Thomas’ entire soap-opera yarn concerns the allegations of Jon David Couzens,” Donohue said in a statement posted on the Catholic League’s website.
“He says that a priest molested him and three other altar boys back in the early 1980s. But why should we believe a man who only now is coming forward with his tale – he never told a single soul – especially given the fact that he has been implicated in a murder? Thomas never told readers that on the night Mark Trader was murdered about a dozen years ago, Couzens got into a fight with him over a botched drug deal, and although another man was convicted, on appeal it was alleged that Couzens and two other men had ‘motive to commit the murder and the opportunity to do so.’ This is public record, so why the cover up?”
Couzens’ attorney, Rebecca Randles, told Courthouse News she has no idea where Donohue came up with the drug and murder implications. Randles said in an interview that that to her knowledge Couzens has never been subject to any drug or murder-related charges.
In the lawsuit, Couzens claims that he reported Trader’s murder in April 1992 to police, after the killer confessed to him. He claims in the lawsuit that he received a commendation from now-Sen. Claire McCaskill for his good citizenship in the murder investigation and trial.
Donohue ramped up his criticism in another statement on Dec. 8, 2011, speculating on the timing of Couzens’ abuse lawsuit with the emergence of a lawsuit filed earlier that year against the K.C.
Diocese and priest Shawn Ratigan. That lawsuit claimed the Diocese waited nearly 6 months before reporting child pornography found on Ratigan’s computer.
“Couzens may be a hero to the Star, but his character is indeed questionable: he was implicated in a murder,” Donohue said in the statement. “Why hasn’t the Star revealed this to its readers? Does it want to ‘silence’ its critics? Why did Couzens wait 30 years before he told his ‘wrenching’ tale? Because the time was ripe to cash in after Fr. Ratigan’s name hit the papers?”
Randles said her client is not a gold-digger, and that the 30-year delay that Donohue finds suspicious is actually quite normal.
“If the memories are repressed or suppressed, there is no way to bring forth the accusations earlier,” Randles said in the interview. “Also, the average age of (priest) abuse is 12. The average age to report is 42. So 30 years is a common time frame.”
Couzens claims that Donohue’s statements falsely portray him as a drug-abusing killer and a Catholic hating bigot. Donohue’s statements were intended to incite and inflame people to confront Couzens, the lawsuit states.
As a result, Couzens says, he has been physically assaulted, cursed at on the streets, suffered emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.
Couzens said in a statement that he did not come forward just for himself.
“In the big picture it is a very sad thing that William Donohue and the Catholic League are attacking those who the Priesthood has already abused,” Couzens said in the statement. “I am not doing this just for me. I now understand why other victims don’t come forward. The things said about me are so cruel and offensive they cut to the core of my being. Others who don’t have my support would cower under these attacks.”
Randles said that statements such as Donohue’s are a common tactic by the Catholic League against those who claim to be abused by priests. She said the Catholic League attempts to bully and harass victims to deter them from moving forward.
Catholic League officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Couzens seeks actual and punitive damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“Mr. Donohue has been an outspoken and pugnacious defender of the church,” Randles said. “It’s our hope that he will align himself with things that are factually true.”
Randles said Couzen’s abuse lawsuit filed in 2011 against the KC Diocese and O’Brien is set for trial in April. The suit against True has been settled.
You Parishioners on here find my postings insulting and degrading, you find my words disgusting and nasty. Well I would ask YOU to read this posting. It will NOT be full of my swears but it speaks the truth. I just want you all to hear, from the words of a Priest Rape Survivor why we cannot forgive you just yet.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD over my priest rape and soul torture, I thought it was bull. I believed that the ONLY people whom could be classified as someone with PTSD were soldiers or those in war zones. Then my therapist started explaining to me what a person whom they diagnose with PTSD goes through, what their life is like…it was like they wrote most of that definition for me.
Yet people still think what I went through can simply go away if I just get over it, forgive the priest, forgive the church, forgive those whom harmed me.
That if I just forget…somehow this will make me all better.
What those whom think this way do not realize, for 33 years I hid what that priest did to me. I felt guilty, I hated myself for what he did to me. I called myself the Antichrist because of it.
When I thought I was the ONLY one who got raped by a priest…once I came out and started raising my voice about this evil…I found there were tens of thousands of us. Then I found out what the leadership did to protect the rapists and not us. Then I found they continue to rape us and harm us by their actions against us.
They continue to deny us justice. They just wish we would shut up and go away. They insult us, denigrate us, call us faggots, say we enjoyed and wanted what happened to us. They call us liars and gold diggers. They say we should look at others whom do the same thing.
How can anyone with what I or others went through EVER hope to get any healing from this, hope to ever find it in our hearts to forgive those whom harmed us…when they continue to do this to us?
Whom do you think Jesus Christ is going to one day, heal our pain and wipe away our tears, take away the never ending nightmares we suffer from because what those whom called themselves priests, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and even Popes did to cover this evil up? I have some hope with Pope Francis…we survivors had none with Pope Benedict.
I onced loved the RCC with all of my heart and soul. When I was a young boy taking my Catechism and doing my First Communion…I was hooked to the beauty and the mysticism and most of all…the love of God and Jesus Christ. That I just had the incredible honor of having my first Communion, of taking the Holy Body and Blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into me and that meant the world to me at that moment.
That was taken away from me in one night due to the perversities of a priest. Whom that night decided his vows he made to God, Jesus Christ and all of us did not matter, that his lusts mattered, and in that night…he took the soul, the faith and the life of a scared, young boy whom had just ran away from a foster home and thought the next day he was going to go to prison til he was 18 for it.
So when YOU PARISHIONERS hear us survivors of these crimes against us, speak out in anger, speak out in pain, speak out in horror about the evils done to us…do not condemn us…help us…help us heal from all of this suffering, all of this pain. Stand up for us. Stand up for your children. I know if you are true to the church…you have some God children. Remember the vows YOU TOOK…to protect and defend the life of this baby…with your very own if you need to.
If this is true to your heart and soul, if you took vows like these and you felt them burn within you…then do this again. Take the vow again to stand up and defend the Children of the Roman Catholic Church.
Help us heal our pain, help us heal our suffering. Help us.