Winona Diocese Warns of Admitted Sex Abuser's Return to Rochester
By Christina Killion Valdez
March 2, 2012
Former Catholic priest Thomas Adamson, who was removed from the priesthood after numerous accusations of pedophilia, recently moved from out of state back to Rochester, according to the Diocese of Winona.
Adamson has been accused of sexually abusing as many as 28 children during his 25 years in the priesthood. Adamson was never criminally charged, but he admitted sexual misconduct with boys in the Winona Diocese beginning in 1961 and in the Twin Cities archdiocese after his transfer there in 1975.
Adamson, now in his late 70s, was removed from the priesthood in 1984.
The Diocese of Winona recently released a statement of its position regarding Adamson's return to the area. In it, the diocese said it notified all parishes and schools as soon as it found out about his return. "We communicated directly to Mr. Adamson that he is not welcome or permitted to enter onto the premises of any parishes or schools within the Diocese of Winona," the statement said.
The Diocese of Winona views Adamson as a potential threat to safety. If he is seen on any diocese premise, staff have been told to contact parish leadership or the diocese. A photo of Adamson will be placed in the ushers' room.
Several lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Winona, where Adamson worked in various parishes from 1958 to 1974, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he was transferred in 1975 after allegations of abuse surfaced. Five Rochester area boys were among the 14 children included in lawsuits filed against the diocese and the archdiocese.
A three-year statute of limitations for criminal sexual conduct was in effect when the alleged abuse occurred. The statute of limitations for sexual assaults on children was changed from three years to seven years in 1984.
The lawsuits alleged that 13 church officials knew about the abuse and "recklessly and needlessly continued to place him in parishes, permitting him to continue to prey on vulnerable youthful victims under his authority as a parish priest."
Three civil lawsuits were settled out of court for undisclosed amounts. A fourth lawsuit went to trial, and the victim was awarded $1 million in damages from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona.
Adamson was assistant principal at Lourdes High School for two years, until 1967, and a priest at St. Francis Catholic Church in Rochester. He also served in Caledonia, Albert Lea and several other area towns. He is a native of Byron and a graduate of Lourdes High School.