Former St. Joseph priest accused of 1960s abuse
By Sam Louwagie
St. Cloud Times
January 13, 2016
|Fr. Othmar Hohmann|
|Lawyer Michael Bryant, Bradshaw & Bryant, Waite Park, announces the filing of a sexual abuse lawsuit Wednesday, Jan. 13 against Fr. Othmar Hohmann. The lawsuit by a woman is naming the Diocese of St. Cloud, St. John's Abby and St. Joseph Parish in St. Joseph as defendants. |
Photo by Jason Wachter
WAITE PARK — A deceased priest with the Diocese of St. Cloud has been accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl more than 50 years ago.
Othmar Hohmann was a monk of St. John's Abbey, and served as a pastor at St. Boniface Church in Cold Spring, Immaculate Conception Church in New Munich, and the Church of St. Joseph in St. Joseph. He retired to St. John's Abbey in 1975, and died in 1980.
According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Stearns County, Hohmann had "unpermitted sexual contact" with a girl on multiple occasions between 1961 and 1966, while he was a pastor at the Church of St. Joseph. The girl was approximately 11-16 years old during that time. The Diocese of St. Cloud, St. John's Abbey and St. Joseph Parish are named as defendants in the suit.
Hohmann moved between parishes 12 times before that time, serving in the Bahamas, North Dakota, Utah and Colorado in addition to Minnesota. Mike Bryant, attorney at Bradshaw & Bryant, said clergy moving around that often has historically indicated patterns of abuse.
Bryant and co-counsel Jeff Anderson & Associates spoke about the lawsuit Wednesday at Bryant's Waite Park office.
In 1960, a letter from Hohmann to a bishop with the Diocese of Crookston asks the bishop to "delete from the records that indictment ... where it mentions that sinister word, 'molesting.' "
The suit asks for a $50,000 judgment against the defendants. It also asks for an order requiring the Diocese of St. Cloud to publicly release the history of abuse, and patterns of grooming and sexual behavior, of each cleric credibly accused of molesting children.
"We are asking the diocese to release the files," said Bryant, "to let the public see what the information is. To find out what they knew, when they knew it, and what can be done so it never happens again."
According to the Diocese of St. Cloud, Bishop Donald Kettler included Hohmann in January 2014 on a list of 33 clergy likely involved in past sexual abuse of children.
The diocese announced plans on Wednesday to host listening sessions at the parish communities where Hohmann served. The schedule and location of the sessions will be announced at www.stclouddiocese.org.
"Bishop Kettler is committed to transparency and providing pastoral assistance to help victims of abuse to find justice and healing," a statement from the diocese reads. "He encourages all victims of abuse to come forward."