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  Twin Cities: Abuse Claim against Priest Made Recently

By Stephen Scott
Saint Paul Pioneer Press [Minnesota]
May 22, 2002

Just days after an investigation began into sexual-abuse allegations made against him, a priest who served more than 15 years in the Twin Cities voluntarily resigned from parish ministry.

The Roman Catholic archdioceses in St. Paul and Newark, N.J., confirmed Tuesday that an accusation was made two weeks ago in New Jersey against the Rev. Robert Zasacki of the Church of St. Joseph in Hopkins.

After receiving the allegation, the Newark archdiocese informed the Twin Cities archdiocese, and Zasacki voluntarily resigned Friday. He read a letter announcing his resignation to those attending Masses on Saturday and Sunday.

Zasacki indicated he had no recollection of the alleged abuse.

"It's an old allegation; it goes back a number of years," said Jim Goodness, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark. But the charge was not brought to the archdiocese until two weeks ago, Goodness said.

An adult man brought the complaint, alleging he was abused by Zasacki in the 1970s, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The abuse is alleged to have occurred in New Jersey, where Zasacki served for 13 years after he was ordained in 1967.

Zasacki came to the Twin Cities area in 1980 to receive treatment for alcoholism, the statement said. By 1987, he had transferred permanently into the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

At the time of the transfer, the Twin Cities archdiocese "learned only about Father Zasacki's history of alcoholism," the statement said. "No allegations of sexual misconduct were reported."

The Archdiocese of Newark is conducting an investigation, according to the guidelines of its sexual abuse policy. Its Archdiocese Response Team will conduct the investigation and report to Archbishop John Myers.

In the Twin Cities, "once we've received all the information there is about the case, we will follow procedures under our policy," archdiocese spokeswoman Nicole Selleck said.

That policy specifies responses to victims, the accused and parishes affected by clergy sexual misconduct.

Zasacki also served parishes in Lindstrom, Circle Pines, St. Paul, Forest Lake, Delano and Robbinsdale before being assigned to Hopkins in November.

 
 

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