Retreat Facilitator's Past As Sex Abuser Resurfaces
A Victims' Advocacy Group Says the Adult Participants in an Episcopal Center's Retreat Should Be Told That the Facilitator Is Registered with the Texas Department of Corrections. the Former Priest Says He Is Reformed

By Pamela Miller
Star Tribune [Collegeville MN]
February 6, 2007

A group representing clergy sex-abuse victims criticized an Episcopal retreat center in Collegeville, Minn., on Tuesday for inviting a registered sex offender -- the brother of the center's director -- to lead a retreat this weekend.

Lynn Bauman, 64, admitted to molesting an 8-year-old boy on a camping trip in 1996 and was sentenced to 10 years' probation, according to the Texas Department of Corrections. He said Tuesday night that he admitted to wrongdoing and has not reoffended, and that it is "not germane" to his work now.

Bauman is scheduled to lead this weekend's $310-per-person "Wisdom School Introduction" retreat, which focuses on fact and fiction about Mary Magdalene and related topics, from Thursday to Sunday at the Episcopal House of Prayer. The center can accommodate 24 people per retreat.

The center, which is associated with the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, is built on land leased from St. John's Abbey, according to diocese spokesman Joe Bjordal and abbey spokesman the Rev. William Skudlarek.

"Here we have a convicted sex offender coming into Minnesota under the guise of religion, and everyone who attends could be in harm's way," said Bob Schwiderski of the Minnesota chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "And it's not the first time he's been here. We don't know who might come into contact with him while he's here."

Bauman, a former Episcopalian priest and the brother of Episcopal House of Prayer director Ward Bauman, is profiled on the Texas Department of Public Safety's sex-offender registration program website.

A front-page Dallas Morning News story dated Aug. 11, 1999, said a plea bargain was struck over the 1996 camping-trip incident because the boy's family did not want the boy subjected to a trial.

Reached at his Texas home Tuesday evening, Lynn Bauman, who runs a spiritual-education organization called Praxis, called the incident "very old news." He said he has followed his probation to the letter.

"If they thought I was dangerous, the authorities would hardly let me travel out of state," Lynn Bauman said. "I'm not a predator, and it's unjust and unfair of people to suggest that I am. The mistake I made, which I have admitted, is simply not germane to my work. And there were some things said back then that were not true, yet I have no recourse to defend myself."

Officials knew of past

In a statement, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota said that Bauman has been "a well-received lecturer at the House of Prayer for over a decade" and that Episcopal Bishop James Jelinek and St. John's Abbot John Klassen knew of his past.

Jelinek granted a request by the House of Prayer's board to employ Bauman "subject to the restrictions of [his] probation," the statement said. "On each visit, Mr. Bauman has registered with local law enforcement officials. His workshops have been for adults only."

Spokeswomen for the Stearns County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said sex offenders registered in other states need only notify Minnesota law enforcement if they're visiting for longer than 14 days, and then only under certain conditions related to the crime's severity and the terms of their probation.

He's 'paid and suffered'

Ward Bauman, of Cold Spring, Minn., said Lynn Bauman will be in Minnesota for four to five days, and added that his brother led retreats at the House of Prayer well before he became its director four years ago.

"Lynn has paid and suffered for this," Ward Bauman said. "But still, the SNAP people follow him around. What do they want? They don't look at whether a person is safe now or not. Should a man's life be destroyed over one incident?"

Schwiderski said SNAP believes retreat participants "should not be kept in the dark" if a facilitator is a sex offender.

"We want to be fair to the institutions involved, and this might be an excellent program, but let's call a spade a spade," he said. "Sex offenders are registered for a reason. People should not be kept in the dark about who they're dealing with. "

Lynn Bauman said there has to be a point where a reformed sex offender is allowed to reenter society as a penitent and productive citizen.

"Where is forgiveness for a person who has made a mistake and not reoffended?" he said. "There's no mercy and no justice in these people hounding me.

"One of the things forgotten here is that people who have made a mistake can grow and move on," he said. "I have done that, and all I ask is that people give me a chance to do my work."

Pamela Miller • 612-673-4290 •


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.