St. Cloud Bishop Added As Defendant in Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Associated Press State & Local Wire
July 11, 2003

Bishop John Kinney has been added as a defendant in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a St. Cloud Diocese priest more than 35 years ago.

Wayne Eller has accused the Rev. James Thoennes of sexually abusing him in the mid-1960s when he was 11- and 12-years-old.

Eller, of Burnsville, originally named Thoennes, St. Anthony's Church in St. Cloud and the Diocese of St. Cloud as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in June 2002.

Thoennes was parish priest at St. Anthony's and Bishop Peter Bartholome led the diocese during the time Eller alleged he was abused. Bartholome, who was bishop from 1953 to 1968, died in 1982.

Eller's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, asked to have St. Anthony's removed as a defendant and Kinney added, even though Kinney wasn't the leader of the diocese at the time of the alleged abuse. Stearns County District Judge Bernard Boland granted both requests.

The diocese is a civil corporation with Kinney now as its leader, Boland wrote in the order adding Kinney as a defendant.

Eller's is the second lawsuit accusing Thoennes of sexual abuse. The other lawsuit was filed in the early 1990s and was settled before trial. In that lawsuit, Thoennes gave a deposition in which he admitted molesting at least four young people in three parishes from the 1960s to 1980s.


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