Diocese Denies Link to Abbey Facing Sex Suit
Ex-Student's Action Names Pueblo District

By Dick Foster
Rocky Mountain News
January 31, 1997

The Catholic Diocese of Pueblo on Thursday denied any connection with the Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City, which is being sued by a former student who claims he was molested by a monk there 15 years ago.

Steven Seewer, who now lives in San Francisco, included the Pueblo Diocese as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, along with the Benedictine Society of Colorado, which owns and operates the abbey, and Barnabus Stelzner, the monk who allegedly molested him.

Seewer charged in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Denver District Court that he was molested by Stelzner while attending the boys' boarding school at the abbey in 1982 and 1983. The school closed in 1985, although monks still live at the abbey.

Abbey officials have denied that they knew of or condoned physical or sexual abuse of students.

On Thursday, the Pueblo Diocese said it has no jurisdiction over the abbey.
Even though it lies within the diocese, the abbey belongs to a religious order and operates independently of diocesan control, said the Rev. Edward Nunez, spokesman for the diocese.

Seewer's lawsuit contends that in the 1970s, the diocese and the Benedictine order sent another abbey monk accused of molesting students to a retreat in New Mexico before returning him to the school in the late 1970s.

Seewer could not be reached for comment, and his attorneys declined to comment on the case.

Stelzner is still assigned to the abbey but now works in Kansas.


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