17 More Twin Cities Priests Id'd As Probable Pedophiles
By Emily Gurnon
October 23, 2014
|Convicted pedophile and former Catholic priest James Porter, in court in April 2004 in Taunton, Mass. (AP Photo/Keith Nordstrom)|
The Twin Cities archdiocese and the law offices of Jeff Anderson issued a joint statement Thursday disclosing names of 17 priests with "substantiated" claims of sexual abuse of a minor -- including four previously unknown to the public.
The names bring to 55 the number of priests deemed to have substantiated claims of child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Ten of the 17 priests have died, "but the pain they caused is very much alive," Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a news release.
"I am profoundly saddened and sorry for the harm clergy sexual abuse has caused victims and survivors, their families and the community."
The joint statement comes 10 days after the archdiocese and Anderson's office, which represents victims of clergy sex abuse, announced the settlement of a lawsuit that had disgorged more than 50,000 pages of priest personnel documents going back decades, and a new child protection plan.
The disclosures Thursday were part of the Oct. 13 settlement, Anderson said.
Four of the names have never before been known to the public, he said. Those are Robert P. Clark, Donald Dummer, Harry Majerus and John J. Owens. Clark, Dummer and Owens are still living, in Mesa, Ariz.; Tewksbury, Mass.; and Fridley respectively.
Reached by phone Thursday, Owens, 85, said he had heard about the accusation and was retaining a lawyer.
He said he was innocent of the charge.
"They're tying me up in something, and I'm not happy about it," he said.
The archdiocese said he is "under administrative penalties" by the Diocese of Bismarck, where he spent most of his years as a priest.
He provided temporary weekend work in the Twin Cities archdiocese from 1999 to 2004. The abuse did not take place here, the archdiocese said.
Clark, 56, did not immediately return a call to his cellphone seeking comment. Ordained in 1984, he worked in the Diocese of New Ulm until 1997. From 1998 to 2002, he taught religion at St. Agnes School in St. Paul. He was removed from active ministry in 2002.
A message left for Dummer, 77, was not immediately returned.
Dummer served as a priest at Assumption church in Richfield from 1975 to 1981. He is listed as being "in residence" at St. Mary's church in St. Paul from 1996 to 2002 and worked as a chaplain at Regions Hospital from 1997 to 2006. He now lives in Massachusetts.
The other priests included on the list Thursday 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. Of those, Ericksen, Foley, Mohs and Vedro are still living.
Three additional priests whom the archdiocese previously listed as having "unsubstantiated" claims against them are now considered to have substantiated claims of abuse of a minor, officials said. They are: Roger Vaughn, now living in New York, N.Y.; and Eugene Corica and Robert Loftus, both deceased.
"This is a big step forward in an action plan begun and reached as part of an agreement with the archdiocese," Anderson said. "The more that is known about these offenders and their histories, the safer our community becomes. This is just the beginning of a plan for full disclosure."
A Minnesota spokesman for SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said it was pleased the names were released Thursday.
"But police, prosecutors, parishioners, parents and the public need and deserve to know where and when these priests assaulted children," said Frank Meuers. "Archbishop Nienstedt must be more forthcoming if kids are to be better protected and victims are to be better supported."
Catholic officials did not disclose when the abuse reports were made, what they consisted of or where the abuse took place.
"We suspect that in virtually every case, St. Paul church employees sat on this information for years or decades," Meuers said.
Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522. Follow her at twitter.com/emilygurnon.