Dominican Order Settles Sex Abuse Suit
A Minnesota Man Now in His 40s Was Awarded $450,000 and Therapy Costs for Suffering Repeated Abuse by a Brother in the 1970s
By Pamela Miller
March 21, 2006
Before the sexual abuse began in 1973, the victim said, there was "grooming": His religion teacher at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in south Minneapolis would sneak him alcohol, marijuana and "questionable movies."
Before it ended in 1974, the Dominican brother had forced the 13-year-old victim to perform sex acts multiple times.
The victim, a Minnesotan now in his mid-40s who is a military service member, reached a settlement late last week with the order for $450,000 and therapy costs, his attorney, Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul, said Monday.
"When it happened, I knew it was bad, but so many bad things had happened, I didn't know what to do," the victim said. "Later I realized how bad it was, and 10 years ago I told my wife. Four years ago, I decided I needed to do something." That decision led to counseling and a civil lawsuit.
He was one of at least four boys abused by Brother Edmund Frost, who was assigned to St. Albert's from 1964 to 1975, Anderson said. Frost has since died.
The case proceeded despite Minnesota's statute of limitations on civil claims, which limits lawsuits to six years after a victim reaches age 18, because the law also preserves a victim's legal rights during military service. The victim entered the military at age 19, Anderson said.
In 1993, another victim of Frost settled out of court. In 1997, suits were filed by two others, brothers who claimed to have been abused "in tag-team fashion" by Frost and the late Rev. Ronan Liles, also of St. Albert's. Their lawsuits were dismissed because of the statute of limitations, Anderson said.
The Dominicans agreed late last week to settle with the fourth victim, eliminating the need for a trial that was to begin Monday in Ramsey County District Court.
The Dominicans "admitted liability because Frost was someone they knew was an offender, yet they allowed him to continue his work," Anderson said. Frost also worked in Madison, Wis.; Winona, Minn.; Iowa and Louisiana.
The Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great, based in Chicago, issued a statement Monday through its Minneapolis attorney, Robert McCollum. "Knowing that this man was abused as a teenager by a Dominican friar has caused me and my Dominican brothers great sadness and shame," said the Rev. Michael Mascari, the Dominicans' provincial. "Although we can never undo the abuse, we hope that our acknowledgement of the abuse, our settlement of his legal claim, and our assistance with the costs of counseling will afford him some measure of consolation and justice."
Mascari said the order now has procedures in place to protect minors and to supervise any brother or priest removed from the ministry because of sexual abuse allegations.
Bob Schwiderski, who works with several victims' advocacy groups, called the case yet another illustration of the Catholic Church's early failure to help victims and to remove perpetrators.
"The church let these guys wander in the desert," he said of the two Frost victims whose lawsuits were dismissed because of the statute of limitations, which is supported by the Catholic Church as well as other religious and school groups. "The church abuses victims all over again by turning its back on them."
The victim said, "The settlement doesn't heal the abuse, but to some degree it holds the church accountable for not holding a known offender accountable and instead sending him to other parishes.
"Not a day goes by when I don't think about what happened," he said. "I just wonder how many other victims are out there. So many people need help - not a lawsuit, necessarily, but counseling and support. I hope my case will help them see that help is there."
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