Woman Settles Sex-Abuse Lawsuit against Archdiocese
She Said a Priest Abused Her As a Child and Will Receive Money and an Apology from the Vicar General Who Did Not Believe Her Allegations
By Bob von Sternberg
October 6, 2005
A 33-year-old woman who says she was sexually abused as a child by a White Bear Lake priest has settled a lawsuit she filed three years ago against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"The only thing I ever wanted was to be taken seriously, to be believed," Anne Bonse said Wednesday. "Child molesters don't belong in the church, certainly."
Bonse, who now lives in Glenwood City, Wis., spoke during a news conference called by her attorney on the steps of the archdiocesan chancery in St. Paul.
Under terms of the settlement, Bonse will receive an undisclosed sum of money. "There will be no talking about money because if she does that's all that's going to be talked about," attorney Jeff Anderson said.
In addition, she is to receive a written apology from the Rev. Kevin McDonough, the archdiocese's vicar general, who she said did not initially believe her allegations.
Also, archdiocese officials have agreed to incorporate material developed by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in training staff members and volunteers.
Archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath said a settlement was reached after "the plaintiff lowered her demands to where our insurance and the archdiocese said it made more sense to settle than to litigate."
The archdiocese already operates what is called a "Safe Environment" program, in which all clergy, employees and volunteers undergo risk management training for dealing with children, he said.
Bonse says she was abused a number of times between the ages of 5 and 10 by Gilbert Gustafson, then her priest at St. Mary of the Lake Church in White Bear Lake.
Gustafson pleaded guilty to assaulting a boy in the 1970s and spent six months in jail. He has since left priestly practice, in accordance with a policy approved by U.S. bishops.
He was not removed because of Bonse's allegations, McGrath said.
She reported her allegations to McDonough in 2000.
"He took a pedophile's word over my own," she said. "I told him all these horrific memories that were humiliating."
Bonse's mother, Jan Fredericks, said she was trying to "appeal to all good Catholics, as my husband and I are, to believe Anne's story. ... I feel terribly betrayed, and this has been a betrayal of the really good men who are priests."
Bonse's attorney, Anderson, who has pursued clergy abuse suits nationwide since the priest pedophilia scandal broke several years ago, said he hoped the settlement of Bonse's suit will "teach this archdiocese this is no way to treat victims when they come for help and protection."
He said his client "felt turned away, ignored and disbelieved."
McGrath said the archdiocese has settled about 50 sexual abuse cases over the years and currently has two pending.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
money guide of hospital products guide of international market guide of repair roof before winter guide of website income guide of secure your business guide of face makeup tools guide of jewellery arts guide of tv shows guide of best places on earth guide of job plans guide of cheap cars guide of creating products guide of women tools guide of eat less guide of car insurance process guide of sport stuff guide of garden home guide of cheap insurances guide of electronic tech guide of healthy feeding guide of what is next in fashion guide of improve company guide of tactical insurance guide of make money at home guide of development in business guide of dept loan guide of cooking secrets guide of correct companies guide of jobs with more income guide of reviews o general products guide of improving technology guide of ideal job guide of business sectors guide of dept problem guide of unlimited business guide of suitable insurance company guide of money cars guide of how to market guide of heatlhy diet tips guide of decoration tipse guide of security problems