Crosiers Haven't Told All;
Religious Order Withheld Its Knowledge of Several Sexual Abuse Incidents
By Richard Meryhew; Chris Graves
November 24, 2002
Despite making public apologies and admitting mistakes, the U.S. Crosiers have not told all they know about the scope of sexual misconduct that quietly festered for decades within the Roman Catholic order.
Now, that lack of candor threatens their credibility with some leaders of St. Odilia Church, a Shoreview parish the Crosiers have served since the early 1960s.
Parish leaders are scheduled to meet in a mediation and conciliation session with the Crosiers early next month to address concerns that developed after parishioners learned that a Crosier brother who admitted to sexual abuse in the 1980s at their prep school in Onamia, Minn., was worshiping at the church.
As some lay leaders push for more disclosure, the Star Tribune has learned that the sexual abuse in Onamia involved more than teenage boys at the school and seminary. The newspaper has learned that young altar boys who served at the Holy Cross Church next door allegedly were abused as well. The Crosiers have previously disclosed some abuse at the prep school.
Although the Crosiers hired a law firm in June to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors and then named eight brothers and priests who are on restriction, they didn't say how many cases they've settled or how much they paid to victims.
They refuse to discuss the number of settlements but have told the newspaper that they have paid a total of approximately $800,000 to all victims of sexual misconduct.
They also haven't disclosed the whereabouts of Brother Gregory Madigan, who the Crosiers say admitted to molesting teenage boys in the mid-1980s at the Onamia prep school. The Crosiers moved Madigan to their Shoreview headquarters two years ago without telling neighbors or lay leaders at the St. Odilia church and school next door. Earlier this year, after revealing he had been living in Shoreview, the order moved Madigan to an undisclosed location.
What the Crosiers haven't disclosed troubles Rex Holzemer, a St. Odilia trustee and a leader on the church's pastoral council.
"If stuff keeps dribbling out, you've lost your opportunity to establish trust again," he said.
The Rev. Thomas Carkhuff, head of the U.S. Crosiers since 1999, acknowledged that "there are serious issues we need to work on together." He declined to elaborate before mediation, but expressed optimism about the outcome.
"I certainly hope and believe we will be able to come to understandings that strengthen what is already a strong relationship with the people of the parish and their leadership," he said.
Said Sharon Hicks, a trustee and parish leader: "I am still hopeful that we can work through the issues we have and come out stronger for it. I don't know if that's possible, but I certainly hope for it."
Carkhuff, in response to questions about the order's handling of the abuse and the law firm's subsequent work, again apologized for the "deplorable behavior" by some members of the order and said he was "deeply sorry for these horrible acts."
But he said in October, when the Crosiers released a summary report of the law firm's findings, that he believed the order had confronted the abuse issue head on:
"We are proud of the investigation, our strengthened [sexual abuse] policy and the many steps we have taken. . . . These measures are part of our commitment to doing all we can to earn the trust of the public."
Altar boys abused
Over the past year, Catholic Church leaders across the nation have been called to account for their handling of sexual misconduct cases involving the clergy. In Minnesota, much of the scrutiny has centered on the priests and brothers at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville and on the Crosiers, which has 89 U.S. members.
Last month, the St. John's abbot, standing with the attorney who represented more than a dozen St. John's victims and family members, outlined conditions of a settlement that victim advocates praised as a model for others.
A week later, the Crosiers publicly identified eight members who had sexually abused minors and announced a stronger policy against sexual misconduct. Six of the eight lived and worked during the 1970s and 1980s at the prep school and seminary, which closed in 1989.
Dan Connolly, an attorney for Faegre & Benson, the law firm hired by the Crosiers to investigate the misconduct and the order's handling of it, said the review turned up "no new perpetrators of abuse of minors."
The Crosiers also identified perpetrators who abused more than one victim, but they didn't disclose the number of victims or the number of incidents.
Carkhuff said the Crosiers "will not discuss case-specific details because they contain information that was obtained with the understanding that it would be kept confidential, and includes material that the Crosiers are legally bound to keep confidential."
As an example, the Crosiers did not address the number of incidents involving Madigan and did not mention any abuse at the Holy Cross Church in Onamia.
The Star Tribune has learned that Madigan, 67, allegedly molested at least six altar boys at the church in the 1960s and 1970s while he supervised them. When parents confronted the Crosiers about Madigan's behavior in the mid-1970s, he agreed to "seek assessment and extensive psychotherapy from the St. Cloud Mental Health Center," according to a 1987 letter written by a Crosier leader.
Madigan "underwent regular therapy" for several months and resigned from "all staff positions in which contact with students was involved," the letter said. According to the Crosiers' Web site, Madigan served in Onamia from 1961 to 1987.
When asked specifically about allegations that Madigan abused altar boys at Holy Cross, Carkhuff, who wasn't on staff at the Onamia prep school, said: "We know of the incidents of Madigan's abuse of minors that have been reported to us, and we have publicly stated that he has been named in credible claims of sexual abuse of minors. We can't say for certain that every instance of abuse has been reported, so we continue to encourage persons who have not come forward and reported abuse to do so."
Some of the altar boys were as young as 9 or 10 when they allegedly were abused.
Four people told the Star Tribune that they were molested by Madigan while altar boys; one couple also acknowledged that their sons were sexually abused by Madigan about the same time.
In all but one case, the victims or parents asked that their names not be published to avoid being identified in their communities.
In many cases, siblings or other relatives confirmed the allegations, many of which are similar:
Madigan allegedly molested the boys while living and working at the Crosier Seminary and the Holy Cross Church, where Crosier priests and brothers have served for decades.
He led them to the basement or back rooms of the church. Other times he took them to his dorm room or to one of the cabins the Crosiers frequented on nearby Lake Mille Lacs, where altar boys were rewarded with a day or two of swimming. Often, they swam in their underwear.
Some victims and relatives said the boys were molested once or twice. One victim said Madigan sexually abused him repeatedly over several years.
He said that abuse sometimes occurred after Madigan picked him to stay at church after serving a funeral mass. When that happened, the victim said, Madigan would sometimes lead him up a ladder to a secluded room with a mattress on the floor.
Sometimes, the victim said, Madigan would lure him by offering trinkets. Other times, he said, Madigan would reward him with cash from the collection plate.
Often, Madigan would promise not to do it again, the victim said.
Another victim said Madigan fondled him for four or five hours one night while they visited a Lake Mille Lacs cottage.
"I remember laying in bed and he's got his arms around me and he's hugging me and he's got his whiskers on his face and I'm thinking 'My dad doesn't even do this kind of stuff,' " the victim said. "I was trying to get as small as I could. . . . I just remember, it was probably the longest night of my life."
Ray Praught, an altar boy in the late 1960s and early 1970s who now lives in Richmond, Va., said Madigan molested him twice _ first in a small room off the kitchen of the seminary, then at Madigan's living quarters at the seminary. Each fondling lasted a few minutes, Praught said.
"I was such a young age, it's hard to know what to do and how to respond," he said. "They're walking around, with cassocks on, black and white, and with crosses on the walls and the pictures of the priests. And everything around you says, 'This is God's House.'
"You say: 'It must be something I did; it can't be something they did.' "
A need to know
One of Madigan's victims, who said he has struggled with drug and alcohol problems, said it's important that the Crosiers be held accountable for the abuse, even if it occurred long ago.
"People are coming out now saying how they are sick of hearing this, that it happened 30 years ago and 'Let's move on and forget about it,' " he said. "I think the thing they forget is, I'll never forget.
"The other part is, the Crosiers have not even come clean. . . . Yes, it did a lot to me, but boy, what it did to my family."
Even before the Madigan issue surfaced at St. Odilia, some parish leaders expressed concerns about not being involved in the important decisions affecting the church, which serves 3,450 households and more than 11,000 people in the northern St. Paul suburbs.
When Carkhuff disclosed in May that he had placed Madigan in Shoreview without consulting parish leaders or neighborhood residents, it drove home the point that the Crosiers were making decisions on important issues affecting the church without involving lay leaders, Holzemer said.
"That woke us all up," he said.
Said fellow trustee Hicks, "It was a very strong sentiment on our part that we had been betrayed and that the culture of secrecy had now been exposed. And it made us very sensitized to what else was there that we aren't being told."
Hicks and Holzemer said that they had hoped the scope of the Crosiers' publicly released summary would have included all sexual abuse, including any involving adults or vulnerable adults.
"We're not wanting to know the gory details of what happened and when," Hicks said. "We just need to know in a very truthful sense that everything has been told that is relevant to the sexual misconduct issue and it's being done in a forthright and transparent manner.
"We need to know how widespread it is. . . . If it's more than one [victim], I think it's important to know whether it is several or if it is many, many victims.
"Are we talking about a few isolated incidents or was it pervasive?"
Mark London, who was paid $150,000 in a 1988 settlement with the Crosiers after being sexually abused by four order members while a student at the seminary in Onamia, said he, too, was disappointed that the Crosiers didn't say more in their report.
"I wanted to believe that they would provide the truth," London said. "I have waited for over 26 years. I no longer believe they are forthright.
"I can't explain the emotion. It's deep sadness. I think it is appropriate and proper for Catholics to demand evidence on why they should trust their clergy.
"It has to be that way from now on."
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