Winona Diocese Releases Names of Accused Child Abusers
By Kay Fate
December 16, 2013
The names of 14 priests who were considered "credibly accused" of sexual abuse of children were released this morning by the Catholic Diocese of Winona.
Eleven of them served Rochester parishes. Of the 14, nine have died and the other five have retired or been suspended from the ministry. A statement from Winona Bishop John Quinn explained the process that led to the names and included the list, but offered no other statement.
The diocese was ordered on Dec. 2 by a Ramsey County District Court judge to release the names of the accused priests, due to a suit that stemmed from an abuse case involving Thomas Adamson, who served at Lourdes High School in the 1960s and St. Francis of Assisi in 1971. The Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul also was ordered to release its list, which it did last week.
The plaintiff alleged the Winona diocese knew Adamson had been abusing children for years but simply moved him around from parish to parish, until he molested the plaintiff in 1976-77.
Though Adamson, who still lives in Rochester, has been in the news for many years, naming the other priests is a step in the right direction, said a St. Paul attorney whose firm has represented dozens of the victims.
“The release of this list makes our communities safer for children, and we applaud the courageous survivors who stood up and spoke out to make sure this list was released," said Mike Finnegan, of the law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates. "We are now one step closer to full transparency and accountability."
The dioceses’ lists cover the period from 1950 to 2002 and include the names of priests and the parishes they served. What it doesn't reveal is when the abuse allegedly occurred, what the abuse was, how the church handled the reports of abuse and how the information was concealed, Finnegan said.
“Credibly accused” means the church believes there is evidence that abuse occurred, not necessarily that the case was proved in court.
The priests, and a sampling of the area cities they served, are: Adamson: Rochester, Fountain, Caledonia, Winona; Sylvester F. Brown (deceased): Rochester, Winona; Joseph C. Cashman: Rochester, Mantorville, Caledonia, Winona; Louis G. Cook (deceased): Austin, Winona, St. Charles, Rollingstone; William D. Curtis (deceased): Rochester, Winona, Fountain, Wykoff, Hokah; John R. Feiten (deceased): Rochester, Hayfield, Wabasha, Winona, Hokah; Richard H. Hatch (deceased): Winona; Ferdinand L. Kaiser (deceased): Wabasha, Caledonia, Harmony, Canton; Jack L. Krough: Rochester, Austin, Winona, Brownsdale; Michael J. Kuisle (deceased): Rochester, Stewartville, Rushford, Houston, Claremont, Winona; James W. Lennon (deceased): Rochester, Plainview, Winona; Leland J. Smith: Rochester, Rollingstone, St. Charles, Rushford, Houston, Kellogg; Robert H. Taylor (deceased): Rochester, Winona; Leo Charles Koppala: Rochester.
There are likely other abusive priests who have not been named, said Pat Wall, including many still active in the priesthood. Wall, a former priest from the Winona diocese who left the priesthood in 1998, was interviewed by the Post-Bulletin last week.
"We'd all love to believe (the church) will come completely clean," he said. "But two phrases they like to banter around a lot are 'credibly accused' and 'substantiated.'"
Accusations of criminal sexual abuse, of course, "always come down to the kid versus the adult," Finnegan said. "If all you need is a denial (from the priest), that puts a lot of kids at risk."
The documents about the alleged abusers compiled by the church were intended to remain internal. They were created specifically for a study conducted by John Jay College to analyze allegations of sexual abuse and were gathered via survey of Catholic dioceses.
While statistics since 2004 aren't available, "I do think kids are better protected," Finnegan said. "Parents now don't have that blind faith that the priest is safe."
The diocese acknowledges that there's a list of clergy credibly accused of abuse after 2004. While it hasn't been ordered to be made public, one of the priests on the Winona list falls into that category.
Leo Charles Koppala, 47, was ordained in 1994 and came to Resurrection Church in Rochester in October 2008. He was placed on administrative leave in June by Quinn, pending the outcome of criminal proceedings against him in Faribault County.