New Sex Allegations against Diocese
By Dan Nienaber
Mankato Free Press
September 17, 2013
Another child sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed against the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm, this time against a dead Willmar priest who faced accusations in the past of sexually assaulting young girls.
In addition to seeking money for damages, the lawsuit is asking a judge to require the diocese to release what is described as a "secret list that contains the names of those with credible accusations of sexual abuse in the Diocese of New Ulm."
In a different matter, an attorney for a man who filed a lawsuit against the diocese in June, accusing another dead priest of sexually assaulting his client while he was a boy attending a church in Henderson, is highlighting documents he says prove the Roman Catholic Church knew that priest was a child molester before he was assigned to that church.
The new lawsuit was filed Monday in Brown County District Court by Lori Stoltz of Northfield and Kim Schmit of Willmar. Both are claiming they were sexually assaulted by David Roney while he was a priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Willmar during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Roney, who died in 2003, was a priest at the church from 1967 to 1980. He later served as a priest at the Church of St. Gregory the Great in Lafayette from 1980 to 1993.
In a news release issued Monday, diocese officials said they would be investigating the allegations in the new lawsuits. In the past the statute of limitations would have prevented the women from filing a lawsuit. A change in Minnesota law earlier this year, called The Child Victims Act, eased those restrictions.
"The Diocese of New Ulm deeply regrets the long-lasting and devastating effects of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy," the release said.
It also said the diocese has made efforts to educate clergy, teachers, parents and students to help identify and prevent sexual misconduct. It also encouraged anyone who has been abused to report the misconduct to the diocese.
The attorney for the women, Jeff Anderson, said in his new complaint that the diocese admitted in 2003 that 12 priests from the diocese had been accused of molesting children. Those names have not been released to the public.
"Lori and Kim, by filing this lawsuit, are demanding the release of the list of known offenders so that the community and kids can be better protected from child predators," Anderson said in a news release. "Who knows how many other Roneys are still out there."
Anderson has said his law firm is aware of 20 victims assaulted by Roney, including five from Willmar who have filed lawsuits in the past. Some victims also have come forward from a church in Benson.
A lawsuit filed in June accused an Irish priest, who allegedly traveled to the United States in 1981 to be treated for pedophilia, of sexually assaulting a boy while serving at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Henderson in 1982. After that lawsuit was filed, Diocese of New Ulm officials said they had no record of Francis Markey serving as a priest at the church.
A diocese in Ireland had sent Markey to a facility called The Servant of the Paraclete in New Mexico in 1981 to be treated for pedophilia, said Pat Noaker, the Minnetonka attorney representing the Henderson victim. Markey, who also died in 2003, had been sent to the Regional Treatment Center in Willmar to take substance abuse classes at the time of the victim's allegations, said Rev. Douglas Grams of the Diocese of New Ulm.
"We just know that the common procedure would have been if a priest were sick or on vacation, a priest helping out in Willmar would have been asked to cover," Grams said in June. "But there is no record of an official assignment."
Citing documents filed by the diocese, Noaker said it was clear the diocese should have known Markey was a pedophile before allowing him to be assigned to the church. Those documents include affidavits from church officials in Ireland and from the Servants of the Paraclete. They say Markey was treated for child molestation more than once in Ireland before transferring to the United States.