Victim: Diocese Ignored Abuse

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, MN)
August 14, 2003

A woman has accused the St. Cloud Diocese of knowing about a priest's abusive past and not telling police or taking steps to protect young parishioners.

The woman was sexually abused by Donald Rieder.

The woman wants to add a claim for punitive damages to her lawsuit against Rieder and the diocese.

She accuses the diocese of deliberately disregarding the rights and safety of parishioners and of employing an unfit agent. The Times does not normally name victims of sexual abuse.

Rieder admitted during a plea hearing in the criminal case against him that he molested the woman and three others. He is serving his one-year jail term in Stearns County.

In the papers seeking to add punitive damages, the woman's lawyer accuses the diocese of keeping Rieder employed at St. John Cantius Church after it knew of the allegations against him. Other court records show nobody from the St. Cloud Diocese contacted law enforcement about those allegations.

The criminal charges to which Rieder pleaded guilty were initiated when one victim contacted police, at least seven months after allegations were brought to the attention of the vicar general and Bishop John Kinney.


Vicar General Rev. Marvin Enneking met with one victim in May 2002 and heard allegations against Rieder, according to an internal memo Enneking wrote. He told the woman he would help her report the allegation to law enforcement "if that is what she wanted."

When the victim expressed concerns about her name appearing in the local newspaper, Enneking told her the diocese wouldn't be able to control that and he recommended she visit with the diocesan lawyer to discuss the situation.

At the end of their meeting, the victim told Enneking she didn't think she wanted to report the allegation to police for fear her name would be known to the public.

Enneking gave her the phone number of the diocesan lawyer. He also told the woman he would assist in any way he could if she needed "support in order to report this to law enforcement."

No report was made until the victim contacted police seven months later. Enneking's predecessor, Rev. Daniel Taufen, testified in a deposition that he never reported any abuse allegations to law enforcement during his tenure as vicar general. In that time period, he was told at least twice about allegations against Rieder, according to court records. Enneking left his position as vicar general about two years ago.

History of abuse

The court filings accuse the diocese of knowing about Rieder's abusive past as early as 1988. The diocese previously has acknowledged knowing about abuse allegations against Rieder in 1992. Rieder remained at St. John Cantius until he retired in 1995.

Some of the allegations date to the 1960s, when Rieder was parish priest in Paynesville.

Kinney declined numerous interview requests previously about Rieder but issued a statement in December stating that the diocese in 1992 followed the policies and procedures in place at the time. Those policies didn't require the diocese to remove Rieder from his ministry or bring the allegations to Kinney's attention, he said.

Kinney in the same statement said he was undertaking a complete review of all diocesan clerics' personnel files to assure there weren't other cases such as Rieder's of which he also was unaware.

Kinney also assured that he would report all allegations against any cleric to the proper authorities.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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