Minnesota man settles lawsuit alleging bishop blackmailed him over abuse claim

Associated Press/Pioneer Press

September 28, 2017

By Steve Karnowski

A Minnesota man who had wanted to become a Catholic deacon has settled his coercion claims against his bishop in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money and the release of a letter he alleged he was forced to sign.

Ronald Vasek, of Tabor, alleged in a lawsuit filed in May that Bishop Michael Hoeppner of the Diocese of Crookston in northwestern Minnesota blackmailed him into signing a letter in 2015 that essentially retracted his allegation that a popular priest from the diocese abused him during a trip to Ohio in 1971 when he was 16. Vasek claimed that Hoeppner threatened a few years earlier to block his path to becoming a deacon and to harm his son’s career in the priesthood if word ever got out.

Vasek went public in May, saying the threat to his son had kept him silent until he was called into a meeting with his bishop this past March and was told his pastor had withdrawn his support for his ordination as deacon.

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