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  Church Officials Say Church Erred on Assignments

By Patrick Howe
Associated Press
July 16, 2002

Twin Cities Roman Catholic leaders said Tuesday they "dropped the ball" by not informing parishes in St. Michael and Minneapolis that a priest assigned to the communities between 1984 and 1988 had been accused of molesting a 10-year-old boy.

The case involves allegations against Lee Krautkremer, who retired in April from his work as a chaplain at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. Under new church rules spawned by the clergy abuse scandals, Krautkremer is no longer permitted to use the titles of father or reverend.

The church leaders' statements came in response to the filing of a lawsuit Tuesday by Ted Krammer, who alleges Krautkremer molested him when he was a boy at a cabin in Wisconsin one weekend in 1977. Krautkremer was a pastor at St. Peter Church in Forest Lake at the time.

Krammer and his parents met with church officials in 1983 to discuss the allegations and Krautkremer was subsequently removed from St. Joseph Church in Lino Lakes.

The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court, seeks damages against Krautkremer and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in part for misleading Krammer's parents regarding what action the church would take against Krautkremer.

Rev. Kevin McDonough, the vicar general of the archdiocese, said the church will likely contest the lawsuit as being beyond the state's statute of limitations.

He also said the church did not mislead the parents, saying they were told Krautkremer would receive treatment, which he did from 1983 to the late 1990s.

But McDonough said the church should not have allowed Krautkremer to work as a pastor for four years after the church was made aware of the allegations.

Krautkremer was assigned to St. Michael Church in St. Michael in 1984 and later was a pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Golden Minneapolis.

"I think we dropped the ball on this one," McDonough said.

Krautkremer was assigned to the hospital - officials there were told of his past, McDonough said - in 1988.

McDonough said at least one other family complained of sexual misconduct by Krautkremer after Krammer.

"(Krautkremer) has accepted responsibility for the harm that he did," said McDonough. Krautkremer did not return a call for comment to his Minneapolis home on Tuesday afternoon.

Minnesota courts generally give victims of child sexual abuse until age 24 to file lawsuits. Krammer is in his mid-30s.

The lawsuit is the latest clergy abuse case handled by Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul lawyer who has represented some 500 people who say they were abused by clergy members.

Krammer has not filed a criminal complaint because he has so far been unable to determine where in Wisconsin the cabin is located. McDonough said he'd try to get that information.

Anderson also asked church leaders for help at the Legislature to overturn the state statute of limitations, but McDonough said he could not commit to that.

And Anderson said the revelation about Krautkremer means church authorities weren't truthful early this year about how priests have been employed after abuse allegations.

In a statement in March, leaders said the archdiocese had "no known child abuse offenders serving in parish ministry." McDonough said Tuesday that while it might be considered parsing words, the statement was accurate because Krautkremer could not be considered in a parish ministry since he was a hospital chaplain.

 
 

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