Former Rochester Priest Admits to Abuse in Deposition
By Rachel Zoll
June 12, 2014
A defrocked priest at the center of a lawsuit against church officials in Winona and the Twin Cities has admitted to abusing several teens over three decades.
Thomas Adamson now lives in Rochester, and his newly released deposition details admitted abuse across communities in southeastern Minnesota.
Adamson is at the center of the lawsuit filed after a former alter boy from St. John's Parish in Caledonia came forward accusing Adamson of allegedly raping him.
The sworn deposition was taken nearly four weeks ago but only released Wednesday.
"How many kids did you sexually molest?" Adamson is asked during the deposition.
"I don't know," the former priest responds. "I would have to study that out."
Adamson has admitted to sexually abusing at least ten teens and attempting to abuse several others in his more than 25-year career.
Adamson was ordained in 1958. His first parish was in Winona. He then moved to Adrian in Western Minnesota where he admits to abusing at least one teen. Between 1962 and 1975, he moved frequently, landing in Rochester three times at both Lourdes and St. Francis, and he admits to abusing children while in Rochester. During that time period he also admits to abusing children while he was in Caledonia and Albert Lea and attempting abuse in Fountain and Wykoff.
"Did you realize, look, I'm a priest, I'm an adult, this is a kid, this is a crime?" Adamson was asked. "Did that go through your head?"
"Never, I don't think," he responded. "I looked at it more as sin than a crime."
In 1975, Adamson was transferred to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis where he admits he continued abusing teens. Allegations of abuse continued to follow him from parish to parish.
According to the deposition, when church leaders received these reports, they would move him to a different parish or send him to treatment, but they never asked him how many children he abused or their names.
"There would be meetings about specific cases, but I was never asked to list names," Adamson said.
Adamson was removed from active ministry in 1985 and defrocked in 2003.
He admits to abuse as late as 1982, but according to the deposition there are allegations from as recently as 1987.
"Let me ask you this Mr. Adamson: Have you ever spent a day in jail?" Adamson was asked.
"No," he responded.
"Do you think you should have?"
In the deposition, Adamson also claims he receives a pension of more than $1,600 every month from the Diocese of Winona as well as secondary health insurance.
KTTC reached out to the Diocese of Winona, but officials say they have no comment regarding the deposition.