Nuisance claim can proceed against diocese

St. Cloud Times

David Unze, June 30, 2015

A Stearns County judge has dismissed parts of a clergy sex abuse lawsuit filed against the Diocese of St. Cloud, but left in place a key claim that has led to the release of numerous priest personnel files in other suits across the state.

The lawsuit was filed in January by a former student at a Foley elementary school. He accused former St. Cloud diocese priest James Thoennes of abusing him years after the diocese knew the priest had abused other children.

The lawsuit accuses Thoennes of abusing the boy in the early 1970s when Thoennes was assigned to St. John’s parish in Foley. The suit says Thoennes abused the child at Thoennes’ mother’s home in Central Minnesota, a place where Thoennes invited several children to accompany him on overnight visits.

The lawsuit also named the diocese as a defendant and accused the diocese of knowing that Thoennes had abused children before it assigned him to Foley.

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