St. Cloud Diocese, priest sued after repeated reports of sexual harassment

Star Tribune

March 29, 2019

By Jean Hopfensperger

Former church employee alleges church failed to respond to her harassment complaints.

A former pastoral associate at two western Minnesota Catholic churches has sued her priest-supervisor and the St Cloud Diocese, accusing the priest of sexual harassment and the diocese of failing to respond to repeated reports of misconduct.

The lawsuit, filed by Theo­dosia Orlando, alleges that the Rev. Joseph Backowski subjected her to “ongoing, unwelcome and offensive verbal and physical harassment and abuse” during her five months working with him. It says the diocese fired her in January because of her complaints.

The complaint says Backowski attempted to manipulate Orlando into a sexual relationship through verbal come-ons and with written messages saying he could “dust the rust off your beauty.” He wrote that he prayed he wouldn’t “become a wolf to consume you like meat,” according to the complaint, which was filed last week in Stearns County District Court.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.