Lawsuit Dismissed against Abbey Priest

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, MN)
July 2, 2003

A lawsuit filed last summer by a former St. John's Preparatory School student accusing a St. John's Abbey priest of sexual abuse has been dismissed.

Stearns County District Court Judge Bernard Boland dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday, saying Bill Quenroe filed his lawsuit after the statute of limitations expired. Quenroe accused the Rev. Dunstan Moorse of sexually abusing him in the early 1980s when Quenroe was a student at St. John's Prep and Moorse was a teacher and spiritual adviser there.

Abbey attorneys successfully argued Quenroe filed the lawsuit after Minnesota's six-year statute of limitations expired. The statute of limitations is a period of time within which legal action must commence to be allowed to proceed in court. Quenroe signed a statement in 1992 outlining the alleged abuse and met with then-Abbot Timothy Kelly in 1995. Quenroe and Kelly discussed financial assistance for the injuries Quenroe said he sustained because of the abuse. That amounts to an understanding the alleged abuse caused him injury and damage, abbey attorneys argued.

Therefore, Quenroe should have known of the abuse by at least 1992 - and no later than 1995 - abbey attorneys argued. That meant he had to file the lawsuit by the end of 1998, and no later than 2001, for it to be within the statute of limitations.

Lawyers for Quenroe argued he developed coping mechanisms that made him incapable of realizing the resulting damages from Moorse's conduct. They also argued the abbey and Moorse fraudulently concealed their conduct, thereby stalling the statute of limitations period.

Boland rejected those arguments. He said the argument that fraud and concealment stall the statute of limitations period hasn't been applied to sexual abuse cases in Minnesota.

Moorse is one of several priests or monks facing restrictions on their activities at St. John's Abbey because of sexual misdeeds. He and the Rev. Allen Tarlton, also on restriction, were named in the lawsuit filed this summer by Quenroe and a victim identified as John Doe 43.

Boland dismissed only the claims Quenroe made against Moorse.


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