2 More Men Say Former Hastings Priest Sexually Abused Them As Kids

By Emily Gurnon
Pioneer Press
June 29, 2010

Two more men filed lawsuits today against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, alleging a former Hastings priest sexually abused them when they were in grade school, their attorney said.

One boy told his Guardian Angels school principal in Hastings that the Rev. Thomas Stitts was abusing him, said Patrick Noaker of Jeff Anderson and Associates. He was about 10 at the time. It was about 1967.

"He was told that he should never say anything like that about the Father and if he did, there must be something wrong with him," Noaker said at a press conference this morning.

The other man was abused in 1966 or 1967 when he was 9 to 10 years old. The lawsuit alleges that Stitts "forcefully" touched the boy's genitals at the church and at the rectory.

The church later became St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Both boys came forward after hearing of a lawsuit filed by another alleged victim of Stitts in March, Noaker said. They had not known each other as children, he said. The attorney said others would also be filing suit.

Stitts died of cancer at age 50 in 1985 while he was pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Brighton.

Today's lawsuits allege that the archdiocese committed fraud by representing to the plaintiffs that Stitts was not a danger to children.

The March lawsuit involves four men who said Stitts abused them while he was a pastor at St. Leo's parish in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul and the Church of St. George in Long Lake, Minn. He was transferred from one church to another after reports of the abuse were disclosed, the suits allege.Dennis McGrath, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said it denies the allegations of misrepresentation and fraud.

The first lawsuits involving Stitts was filed in 1995. Attorneys for those plaintiffs were "given full access to information about how the Archdiocese responded to claims of sexual abuse by Fr. Stitts prior to his death in 1985," he said in an earlier statement.

"It is unreasonable for these attorneys to now allege that information about Fr. Stitts was kept secret when it has been well known for over 25 years," McGrath said.



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