Names of New Ulm Priests Accused of Sexual Misconduct Released
By Megan Stewart
August 4, 2014
Attorneys for a man suing the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona have released names of New Ulm priests accused of sexual misconduct.
On Monday, attorney Jeff Anderson released a deposition transcript of Father Francis Garvey, a priest and former top official of the Diocese of New Ulm. Anderson says in his deposition, Garvey identified New Ulm priests accused of sexual misconduct.
New Ulm had refused to release the list in the past.
Diocese of New Ulm priests accused of sexual misconduct, as identified by Garvey in a Jan. 24, 2014, deposition and civil lawsuits:
Father David A. Roney
Father Francis Markey
Father Vincent Fitzgerald
Father William J. Marks
Father Michael G. Skoblik
Father John L. Gleason
Father Douglas L. Schleisman
Father John M. Murphy
Archbishop John Nienstedt previously served as bishop in New Ulm from 2001 to 2007. Anderson said Nienstedt should have released the names of the eight priests himself during his tenure in New Ulm.
"There's no excuse for them to not release at least the names of the credibly accused offenders if they really care about kids," Anderson said. "He was in possession of that list, and he was the one that kept that list secret."
Dr. Charles Reid, an expert on the Catholic Church at the University of St. Thomas, said Nienstedt absolutely should have released the names when he was presiding over the Diocese of New Ulm. However, he also called the names "ancient history": Seven of the eight priests are deceased, and most of the names had already been publicized as a result of other lawsuits.
Last week, Nienstedt flatly denied any knowledge of abusive priests during his time in New Ulm. When asked if he had ever knowingly had a priest in the diocese that was accused of sexual abuse during his time as Bishop, Nienstedt said no.
On Monday, the Archdiocese released a statement from Nienstedt clarifying his tenure in New Ulm:
"Between 2001 and 2007, during my tenure as Bishop of New Ulm, there were no accusations of child sexual abuse by clergy who were in active ministry at that time. We were, however, contacted by adults who claimed they were sexually abused as a minor by a priest during a previous administration. When they notified the diocese, the victims were adults and past the age of mandatory reporting. It was our practice at the time to encourage victims to contact the police themselves. This is not our practice now in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Regardless of the age of the victim or the time of the abuse, we now turn all accusations over to law enforcement."
Nienstedt also released the following statement regarding the publication of the eight New Ulm priests' names:
"I was Bishop of New Ulm between 2001 and 2007. During that time, it was the practice of every diocese in the state of Minnesota to maintain the confidentiality of clergy information that was compiled as a part of the John Jay study in 2003."
"In December 2013, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis released the names of priests who previously had assignments in the archdiocese, and who have had substantiated claims against them of sexually abusing a minor in our archdiocese. A claim is substantiated when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the reported abuse occurred. Additional names were added to this list in February and May 2014, when additional substantiated claims were discovered through an independent review of clergy files."
"This is part of the archdiocese’s ongoing commitment to prudent disclosure and accountability to all faithful and our larger community. Transparency and accountability are essential in pursuit of our goals to protect the young and vulnerable, care for victims of abuse, and restore trust among the faithful, as well as among our clergy who are serving honorably."
The release of names comes after a hearing in Ramsey County District Court on the Diocese of Winona's motion to change venue in the Doe 1 vs. Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona.
Judge John Van de North denied the request.
In court Monday morning, Anderson asked for an amendment to the “good cause” standard. He says he is looking to broaden the criteria used to determine which priest names and allegations get released to the public.
Anderson and his law firm, Jeff Anderson & Associates, is representing several plaintiffs in lawsuits against the archdiocese and dioceses across the state.