Priest Diagnosed with Sexuality Disorder in 1989 Continued in Ministry until 2013
Updated: 08/12/2014 7:19 AM
Created: 08/11/2014 4:24 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews
From the Link: http://kstp.com/article/stories/s3529733.shtml
A file publicly released Monday accuses the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis of ignoring the fact that a priest, Father Kenneth LaVan, was accused of inappropriate behavior multiple times. He continued in ministry until 2013.
The files released by Jeff Anderson and Associates say LaVan was first accused of inappropriate sexual behavior in the 1980s. He was sent for treatment twice and was diagnosed with compulsive sexuality disorder in 1989.
According to Anderson, LaVan’s history was reviewed in 1995, and despite the allegations and a lawsuit, the Clergy Review Board recommended LaVan continue in ministry. It wasn’t until December 2013, when Kinsale Management reviewed LaVan’s files, that he was removed from ministry. LaVan’s name was not part of the original list of credibly accused priests released by the Archdiocese last December; however, LaVan’s name was later added.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released a statement Monday saying it made public that there were “substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor against Kenneth LaVan” in February 2014. A month later it released a statement saying LaVan was removed from ministry in 1989 to undergo treatment. He was only allowed to return to parish ministry at St. Joseph in Lino Lakes with monitoring after he finished treatment.
The Archdiocese says “under today’s standards and protocols, if we were to receive similar allegations regarding a priest, police would immediately be notified.” The church goes on to say a priest who has sexually abused a child may still receive treatment but “would not be considered again for ministry, no matter what progress he might make in treatment.”
Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens ends the statement with, “I apologize for the harm caused by some of our priests and ask for forgiveness from sexual abuse victim/survivors, their families and their friends.”
Kevin McDonough, former vicar general, questioned about handling of sex abuse cases
Attorney Jeff Anderson questioned a second top official of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Wednesday and again walked away complaining that he’d been cheated out of time.
Father Kevin McDonough, a former vicar general, was supposed to undergo eight hours of court-ordered testimony in preparation for a civil sex abuse trial, but Anderson claims he only got six and a half.
In a press release, Anderson says McDonough ended the deposition early on the advice of his counsel when pressed about whether claims made in the present lawsuit have been exaggerated. Anderson is suing the archdiocese on the grounds that it poses a threat to the entire population.
The crusading St. Paul attorney intends to take his complaint against McDonough to a Ramsey County judge — an act that could ultimately make the transcript and videotape open to the public.
Wednesday’s showdown comes two weeks after John Nienstedt submitted to four hours of interrogation. That same day Anderson accused the archbishop of walking out mid-question and failing to turn over all relevant documents ahead of time. Just this week the archdiocese handed over more than a dozen cases files related to internal investigations, one of which totals 3,207 pages.
A statement released Wednesday by the archdiocese responds to Anderson’s latest complaint by saying McDonough cooperated throughout the eight-hour interview. During that time, McDonough “clarified misstatements and mischaracterizations” of the alleged crimes that took place during his watch. It concludes:
Father McDonough emphasized that he always had the best interests of children and the vulnerable in mind when doing his work. He also acknowledged that the harm cause(d) by sexual abuse is serious and grave.
As vicar general, between 1991 and 2008, McDonough vetted sex abuse claims. Internal memos show that, for years, he reported to his superiors about the archdiocese’s exposure to lawsuits. His tenure as clerical detective first came into question publicly this fall with the release of an MPR report suggesting he and other officials shielded a priest who’s now in jail.
A 56-page report released Monday by an internal task force criticized the archdiocese for “a flawed organizational structure with little oversight” that “created opportunities” for abuse. It passes blame on the institution rather than the people in charge.
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.
Priest reportedly approached young men at Barnes & Noble, asked, “Are you fucking horny?”
In the summer of 2012, Curtis Wehmeyer, a priest at Parish of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, was charged with sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography.
Wehmeyer’s arrest came after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis reported allegations against him to police, and the church spun the story as one where they took quick and decisive action against an alleged pedophile priest. But if an in-depth MPR report can be believed, that was anything but the case.
According to MPR, reports of sexual misconduct involving Wehmeyer reached archdiocese officials as early as 2004, three years after he became a priest. In the spring of 2011, a high-ranking Catholic official wrote a memo to a colleague about how they should deal with the allegations.
Regarding an incident where Wehmeyer allegedly approached a man in a Borders bookstore and engaged in “suggestive conversation,” Father Kevin McDonough, the archdiocese’s “delegate for a safe environment,” wrote that it was his belief Wehmeyer “was not all that interested in an actual sexual encounter, but rather was obtaining some stimulation by ‘playing with fire.'”
“This sort of behavior would not show up in the workplace. I agree with Father Curtis that disclosure there would only serve to out his sexual identity questions (which, by the way, would be unlikely to surprise any observant person in the parish!),” McDonough continued, concluding that his recommendation “is that we encourage (or even require) Father Wehmeyer to disclose his pattern of self-destructive behavior to a small circle of trusted friends.”
Seven years earlier, McDonough, then working as the archdiocese’s vicar general, received his first report about Wehmeyer behaving inappropriately in a Twin Cities bookstore. MPR’s report details that incident:
[In May 2004] Wehmeyer approached two young men ages 19 and 20 for sex at a Barnes & Noble store in Roseville. “It was really strange, the way he came on to us,” one of the men, Andy Chapeau, said in an interview with MPR News.
Wehmeyer leaned close to one of the men and said, “Are you f–horny right now?”
A Catholic parishioner heard about the incident and brought it to McDonough’s attention shortly after it occurred, but the church didn’t take action. From MPR:
McDonough met with the concerned parishioner and one of the men approached by Wehmeyer at the bookstore. He assured them that Wehmeyer was receiving counseling. The parishioner wasn’t satisfied with McDonough’s answers, and he worried that he might hear about Wehmeyer in the news years later. When that happened, the parishioner wrote a furious letter to Nienstedt, the archbishop.
Despite numerous allegations of inappropriate conduct, Wehmeyer managed to keep his name out of the police blotter until June 2012, when he was charged with repeatedly abusing a 12-year-old boy his 14-year-old brother. One of the boys said Wehmeyer offered him cigarettes and beer, and showed him pornography. After he was abused, one of the brothers later abused both of his sisters. That abuse was reported to the boys’ mother by one of the sisters.
MPR explains how the cycle of abuse was traced back to the priest:
The mother didn’t understand how the boy could’ve learned about sex already. She asked him if he’d been watching pornography.
Yes, the boy said. Wehmeyer showed it to him.
Wehmeyer pleaded guilty and is currently serving five years in prison.
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
Francis Hoefgen: Portrait of an abusive priest
For four years he went into Minnesota parishes that were either struggling financially, or from sexual abuse allegations, and helped smooth things over. Then his conscience caught up with him.
Patrick Wall is convinced that he might still be in the Order of St. Benedict today had it not been for Francis Hoefgen, a troublesome priest who was quietly removed from a parish in Hastings. Wall was ordained a couple months later and soon vaulted into Hoefgen’s old spot.
The year was in 1993 — almost a decade after Hoefgen admitted to giving a teenage boy a blowjob. Police and prosecutors knew about it, and had done nothing.
In spring of 1983, Hoefgen was serving as associate pastor of St. Boniface in Cold Spring and making pastoral visits to the St. Cloud Hospital, where he met a suicidal teen whom we’ll refer to as John.
During one of Hoefgen’s visits, John confided that he was conflicted about his sexuality. Hoefgen responded, according to court documents, that it “was okay because God couldn’t hate someone for loving someone.” (Multiple messages left with Hoefgen, now 63, were not returned.)
Once out of the hospital, shortly after his 17th birthday, John moved into the St. Boniface parish house to live with Hoefgen. The two went one night to see a horror movie. They held hands, and Hoefgen put his head on John’s shoulder during scary scenes.
Within a few days, John moved in with a foster family. It’d be almost a whole year before he told a social service worker that he’d been sexually assaulted by the priest while they’d lived together. Hoefgen believed it was consensual, even if the boy was underage.
According to a sworn statement taken by Cold Spring police chief Vince Konz — away from headquarters, so as not to “cause speculation” — Hoefgen confessed that he sodomized John on two occasions. Both times they’d been watching TV, late at night, inside the parish house.
Q. Did you place his penis in your mouth?
Q. Did you touch his penis with your hands?
Hoefgen gave John absolution after the first sexual encounter, but not the second, according to court documents. “That sin is still on his conscience,” Konz would later say.
Three days later, Hoefgen was admitted to the St. Luke Institute, a Catholic-run treatment facility in Maryland that’s been a destination for abusive priests and monks since the late 70s.
The Stearns County DA’s Office sat on the information for two and a half years, then released a one-page memo. Despite Hoefgen’s confession, deputy DA Patrick Strom did not believe the priest had broken the law. The problem, he argued, had been dealt with when Hoefgen went away to treatment: “Therefore, in consideration of all the above factors, I am not persuaded that the interests of justice require further prosecution in this matter and no prosecution is contemplated.”
By that time, Hoefgen had returned to Minnesota. He was put back into ministry several years later at the newly formed St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hastings, where it was later alleged that he’d abused a prepubescent boy.
John filed a lawsuit in the fall of 1992, and church officials quietly removed Hoefgen from ministry — this time to be replaced by Wall. Wall assuaged parishioners and gathered up whatever bits of information he could, he says, then forwarded it along the chain of command.
“It wasn’t the best thing for society,” Wall says, more angry than regretful. “It was the best thing for the church, and if your ultimate goal is to protect the faith — I guess I achieved the goal I was sent to do.”
Wall left the priesthood in 1998 and reinvented himself as a religious legal consultant for attorneys on the West Coast who took on cases of clerical sexual abuse. He works today for Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul attorney who’s made suing the Catholic Church a full-time job.
Two other lawsuits have been filed against Hoefgen within that last five years — one of which Wall is working on. (Hastings police have said they’ve opened an investigation of their own.)
In response to that lawsuit, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released the following statement: “Any act of abuse against a minor or vulnerable adult is reprehensible and morally repugnant and we will not tolerate it.”
In 2011, the same year Hoefgen was officially removed from the priesthood, he wrote a one-sentence letter of apology to a man whom he’d allegedly abused as a child in Cold Spring. Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s also wrote a letter of apology, pledging that “appropriate boundaries between members of this monastic community and other persons are never violated again.”
But this story has another confession. On Feb. 9, 1993, Vince Konz, the Cold Spring chief of police, gave a sworn statement in which he admitted to putting the interests of the “faith community” above the interests of John.
Konz explained his actions this way:
You know how these small towns are…I’ve always said that everybody can be classified in one of three categories. There’s small people who speak of people, there’s average people who speak of events, and great minds will speak of ideas. But there’s so many small people in a small town like this, they could crucify the guy.
And maybe he had it coming, but that wasn’t the way things were handled in those days.
For an abusive priest, retirement income came with a premium
By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
They called him the Polka Padre. Later, they called him the Polka Predator.
For decades, the Rev. Robert Kapoun charmed parishioners with his accordion at “polka masses” across Minnesota. Privately, he took young boys to saunas, rectories and a secluded cabin in Cold Spring and sexually assaulted them, according to court testimony. Parents complained but leaders at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis did little to stop him.
Kapoun remained in ministry until 1996, the year a lawsuit brought by Dale Scheffler, one of his victims, went to trial. It was the biggest clergy sex abuse case in Minnesota history. Over 10 days in a packed Hennepin County courtroom, jurors watched in shock as a parade of top church leaders defended and minimized their inaction. Former Archbishop John Roach claimed memory loss, while Kapoun, then 57, claimed that God had cured him of his sexual interest in young boys.
The jury awarded a $1 million verdict. Scheffler broke down sobbing.
An MPR News investigation found that a year after the trial, the archdiocese allowed Kapoun to retire early and sent him funds beyond his pension pay that totaled about $160,000 by 2012. The money was classified as “medical retirement.” Those retirement payments — $957.50 every month — came in addition to regular pension checks of $1,510.50.
In an interview recently with MPR News, Kapoun dismissed questions about money. The priest said that he rarely sees anyone from the archdiocese and that he suffers from migraines and spinal pain. He splits his time between his half-million dollar lakefront property in Cold Spring and a second home in Florida. “I’m very happy,” said Kapoun, 74.
A spokesperson for the archdiocese declined to make anyone available to discuss Kapoun.
Kapoun is one of several accused priests who’ve received payments in addition to regular pension checks, according to two former top church officials.