|New York Man Sues St. John's Abbey, Alleges Sex Abuse by Former Abbot
By Rose French
June 7, 2011
A New York man is suing St. John's Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict in Collegeville, Minn., alleging a former abbot sexually abused him decades ago at a Bronx church.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in St. Paul accuses the late Timothy Kelly of abusing the victim from 1966 to 1967 when he was an altar boy at St. Anselm's Church in New York, where Kelly was an associate pastor. The youth was 15 or 16 at the time.
The alleged victim, identified in the lawsuit as John Doe 174, confessed acts he "believed were sinful that were sexual in nature" to Kelly around 1966, according to the lawsuit. Shortly afterward, Kelly began sexually abusing the youth, the lawsuit said.
A prominent St. John's Abbey leader for many years, Kelly served as abbot from 1992 to 2000. In 1993, Kelly co-founded the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute to "establish a forum for open dialogue between both victims and previous perpetrators of clergy sexual abuse," according to the abbey's website. Kelly, 76, died in October.
St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents the plaintiff, said that Kelly was unreceptive to concerns of abuse victims and that since at least the 1960s, the abbey has protected clergy from criminal prosecution to avoid scandal.
Brother Paul Richards, St. John's media spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement that the abbey views "sexual abuse or sexual exploitation by its members to be morally reprehensible" and is investigating the lawsuit's accusations.
"The abbey was saddened and shocked to learn of allegations of sexual abuse in the mid-60s against one of its deceased members," the statement said. "St. John's monastic community continues to extend prayers to all victims of abuse."
In March, the abbey identified 17 St. John's monks who have faced credible allegations of sexual abuse or other misconduct as part of a settlement of clergy abuse lawsuits. Anderson, who represented some of those plaintiffs, said there continues to be "evidence of a clerical subculture there that's all about denial, deceit, deception and secrecy. It's alarming, especially in light of the last settlement."
Rose French • 612-673-4352
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