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Archdiocese Releases Four New Names of Priests Accused of Abuse

By Madeleine Baran
Minnesota Public Radio
October 23, 2014

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/10/23/archdiocese-releases-new-names

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has released the names of 17 additional priests accused of sexual abuse, as part of a settlement of a clergy abuse lawsuit.

Four of the names were previously unknown to the public. They include the Revs. Robert Clark, Donald Dummer, Harry Majerus and John Owens.

In a statement, Archbishop John Nienstedt said he released the names as part of a legal settlement reached last week with attorney Jeff Anderson. Nienstedt said the 17 men "have substantiated claims against them of sexually abusing a minor while they were assigned as priests."

However, the archbishop did not explain why the archdiocese had kept the allegations secret. Nor did he provide information on the alleged sex crimes or when the archdiocese learned of them.

Explore the full investigation Clergy abuse, cover-up and crisis in the Twin Cities Catholic church

The disclosure also raises questions about the archdiocese's previous statements that it had already released every name. Nienstedt's statement does not explain how the archdiocese determined that more priests had "substantiated claims" against them. Nienstedt did not respond to an interview request.

Clark taught religion at St. Agnes High School in St. Paul from 1998 to 2002, according to the archdiocese and "is alleged to have committed acts of sexual abuse of a minor outside of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis." Clark could not be reached for comment.

St. Agnes superintendent Rev. Mark Moriarty, reached Thursday afternoon, said he does not know of any allegations that Clark abused anyone at St. Agnes. Moriarty said he has not received any calls from parents and declined to say whether he would reach out to former students and their families.

Two of the other previously unknown accused priests Owens and Dummer continued to serve in ministry after U.S. bishops in 2002 pledged "zero tolerance" for priests who had sexually abused children, according to the information released today. In the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the bishops agreed that any priest who had been "credibly accused" of sexually abusing a child would be removed from ministry.

Owens, who provided weekend assistance in the Forest Lake area from 1999 to 2004, could not be reached for comment.

Dummer served as a chaplain at Regions Hospital from 1997 to 2006. He did not immediately return a voicemail message left Thursday.

Nienstedt did not provide any information about the allegation against Majerus, who died in 1995.

The release of names of "credibly accused" priests began in December 2013, after Ramsey County Judge John Van de North ordered the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona to disclose the names of credibly accused priests on a previously sealed list created several years earlier. Since then, the archdiocese has released several more names on its website and begun using the word "substantiated" to describe the allegations against priests it believes should be disclosed to the public.

Both classifications "credibly accused" and "substantiated" are based on the findings of the archdiocese. In a three-page list of "child protection protocols" released last week, the archdiocese defined a credible allegation as one that is not "not manifestly false or frivolous" and a substantiated claim as "one for which sufficient evidence exists to establish reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged abuse occurred."

Both Nienstedt and his predecessor, Archbishop Harry Flynn, testified earlier this year that they could not recall ever reporting an abuse allegation to police.

The agreement to consider releasing more names was part of a settlement reached last week between the Twin Cities archdiocese, the Winona diocese and a man who said he was sexually abused as a child by the Rev. Thomas Adamson in the late 1970s. The settlement included an agreement to bring disputes over the release of names to a "special master" agreed to by Anderson, the Twin Cities archdiocese and the Winona diocese.

Anderson said the names released today did not go to the special master. He said they were agreed to in negotiations with the Twin Cities archdiocese and "have been subject to scrutiny by us, investigation by them and some outside resources that are ready to be released. There will be more to come."

Anderson said he plans to release documents from the priests' internal files in the next few weeks.

Frank Meuers, who heads the Minnesota branch of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement that the new information "confirms again just how much St. Paul Catholic officials have endangered and continue to endanger kids.

"In each case, Twin Cities church officials chose to endanger kids and protect predators by making these moves behind the scenes instead of disclosing them in public," he wrote. "So today's news again proves just how deceitful and self-serving top officials in the St. Paul archdiocese have been for years."

Two priests reconsidered

In releasing the names, Nienstedt also provided new information on two priests. Both the Revs. Eugene Corica and Robert Loftus had been included on the sealed list released in December under court order, but the archdiocese said at the time that it did not know why the men had been placed on the sealed list.

In December, the archdiocese posted a notice on its website that no records existed of any child sexual abuse allegation against Corica. Today, archdiocese officials added him to the lists of priests with a substantiated claim of child sexual abuse within the archdiocese.

Also in December, the archdiocese said that Loftus "was credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a 'young woman' in the early 1970's," but that the archdiocese did not know the woman's age. It said the archdiocese had hired an investigator to review the file "and advise on whether Loftus should be disclosed as a 'substantiated claim.'"

Today, archdiocese officials added Loftus to the lists of priests with a substantiated claim of child sexual abuse within the archdiocese.

Nienstedt acknowledged the change in his written statement, but did not explain it.?

Unknown accusations

Nienstedt released limited information on the four priests whose allegations had not previously been known to the public:

Rev. Robert Clark: Clark taught religion at St. Agnes High School in St. Paul from 1998 to 2002. He also served in several parishes in the Diocese of New Ulm from 1984 to 1997. The archdiocese's website says Clark, who is a priest of the Diocese of New Ulm, went on "administrative leave" in 2002 and was "removed from active ministry on March 26, 2002." The archdiocese listed Clark's status as "resigned" and said he lives in Mesa, Arizona. Clark "is alleged to have committed acts of sexual abuse of a minor outside of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis," the archdiocese's website said.

Rev. John Owens: Owens served in the Diocese of Bismarck from 1960 to 1999 and was "alleged to have committed acts of sexual abuse of a minor outside the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis," according to the archdiocese.

Owens also provided "temporary weekend assistance in Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in/near Forest Lake, 1999-2004," the archdiocese's website said. It added that Owens "continued providing assistance although faculties were removed in 2002." The archdiocese's website does not say why Owens lost his ability to engage in ministry in 2002 or why he continued to serve in parishes for another two years. The website says Owens lives in Forest Lake, Minn., "under administrative penalties by Diocese of Bismarck."

Rev. Donald Dummer: Dummer served as associate pastor of Assumption parish in Richfield from 1975 to 1981, and was "in residence at St. Mary in St. Paul from 1996 to 2002, according to the archdiocese's website. Dummer served as a chaplain at Region's Hospital from 1997 to 2006, it said. The final entry on Dummer's profile says, "Residence of local Superior for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, 2002 - 2006."

Dummer, a priest of the religious order Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, lives in Tewksbury, Mass., according to the website. It notes that the archdiocese "removed (his) faculties" in 2006 four years after bishops agreed on a "zero tolerance" policy for priests who sexually abused children.

Rev. Harry Majerus: Nienstedt released no information on any allegations against Majerus, a priest who served in the New Ulm diocese and the Twin Cities archdiocese. Majerus died in 1995, according to the archdiocese's website.

The other 14 priests named today are: Edward Beutner, Thomas Ericksen, Ambrose Filbin, Jerry Foley, Ralph Goniea, Reginald Krakovsky, William Marks, Wendell Mohs, James Nickel, James Porter, Charles Potocki, James Vedro and Adalbert Wolski.

 

 

 

 

 




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