|Fraud Suit against Diocese Has Sex Abuse Link
By David Unze
St. Cloud Times
January 12, 2009
A lawsuit filed Monday in Stearns County District Court accuses the Diocese of St. Cloud of fraud for not telling parishioners about allegations of sexual abuse against one of its priests.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of an unidentified plaintiff, alleges that the diocese committed fraud for not disclosing to parishioners that James Thoennes had been accused of abusing children. The lawsuit accuses the diocese of moving Thoennes from parish to parish without notifying parishioners of previous complaints against Thoennes.
The plaintiff was abused by Thoennes from 1982-1984, according to the lawsuit, nearly 20 years after allegations of sexual abuse against Thoennes first came to the attention of the diocese.
The lawsuit names only the diocese and not Thoennes as defendant and makes two claims of fraud but no claims of personal injury, sexual battery or negligence. The statute of limitations likely would bar the latter claims. But because the victim in the case filed Monday didn't learn until last year what the diocese knew in the 1960s about Thoennes, he can still file a claim without the diocese seeking dismissal by the statute of limitations, said Patrick Noaker, the attorney representing the plaintiff.
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