Judge Won't Dismiss Public Nuisance Claim against Archdiocese
By Jenna Lohse
September 4, 2014
A Ramsey County District Court judge has ruled a civil trial involving child sex abuse and the catholic church in Minnesota can move forward.
We talked with an attorney representing the abuse victims who is calling this a historic decision. The judge denied a request from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona to dismiss a public nuisance claim.
The claim involves accusations the church covered up child sex abuse. As we've reported, a lawsuit was filed last year against former priest Thomas Adamson of Rochester. In a sworn deposition Adamson admitted to sexually abusing at least 12 teens from the 1960's to the mid 1980's, including in Rochester. That prompted the release of an abuse summary of 13 priests who have been "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children.
We’re told today's decision is unprecedented. "It's the first time that a Catholic Diocese claim of public nuisance is going to move forward against the Catholic Diocese. What this means for the Diocese of Winona is that there's now going to be a public trial that's going to air the truth about what they did in the past, covering up and concealing priest sexual abusers in the diocese,” said Victim’s Attorney, Mike Finnegan.
We received this statement from the Diocese of Winona saying, "To suggest the Diocese of Winona constitutes a public nuisance fails to recognize the significant efforts undertaken by the Diocese of Winona to protect children entrusted to its care. The Diocese of Winona's internal policies seek to educate and encourage reporting of any sexual misconduct.
A motion to move the trial out of Ramsey County due to all the attention it’s gotten was also denied. The trial is set for November 3rd.