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  Woman Alleges That Nun Sexually Abused Her As a Teenager

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
January 29, 1992

A Minnesota woman is suing a nun who she said sexually abused her for three years while she was a teenager in Austin, Minn.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Olmsted County District Court in Rochester, says Sister Georgene Stuppy "regularly and repeatedly engaged in unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact" with the plaintiff from 1978 through the fall of 1981.

The alleged abuse occurred at the plaintiff's parochial grade school and in Stuppy's room at her convent in Rochester, among other places, the suit says.

Stuppy's attorney, John Kenefick of St. Paul, said yesterday that Stuppy has admitted that there was physical contact between her and the girl, but that the nun considered it to be of a nurturing and comforting rather than a sexual nature. "In hindsight, it's being interpreted as sexual," he said.

Kenefick also said the plaintiff had some personal and family problems at the time that might have contributed to the situation.

The woman's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul, said this was the first time one of his clients had sued a nun alleging sexual abuse. Anderson is nationally known for handling cases involving alleged sexual abuse by clergy members.

"This is very unusual . . . It is a much more infrequent occurrence that females are predators, number one, and female clergy are predators, number two," he said.

Also named as defendants in the suit are Stuppy's religious order, the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes in Rochester, and Queen of Angels Church in Austin, Minn.

The attorney for Queen of Angels, Richard Chadwick of Minneapolis, said that the church had no knowledge of the alleged sexual activities. "We deny any responsibility in the matter," he said.

According to the suit, the plaintiff attended Stuppy's religion classes as a seventh- and eighth-grader at Queen of Angels School from 1976 to 1978. Stuppy "began insinuating herself into the child's life and ultimately into her family's life," frequently staying overnight at the family's home, Anderson said.

"Through that, (Stuppy) became a real spiritual mentor to her, representing something very holy," he said.

The sexual abuse began when the plaintiff started going to Stuppy for counseling in 1978 when she was about 13 years old, Anderson said. It continued until she was 17, he said.

Anderson said Stuppy had acknowledged engaging in some sexual conduct with the girl, but said it was for an unidentified spiritual purpose, not for sexual gratification.

Anderson said the plaintiff is 27 and lives outside the Twin Cities area. Stuppy, who is said to be in her late 40s, lives at the convent in Rochester and works there as a librarian.

 
 

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