KROC-AM [Rochester MN]

July 20, 2023

By Andy Brownell

Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) – Lourdes High School, the Rochester Catholic Schools system, and the Catholic Diocese of Winona-Rochester have been named in a new clergy abuse lawsuit.

The negligence case was filed this week in Olmsted County Court by attorney Jeffrey Anderson on behalf of an anonymous former Lourdes student who alleges he was sexually abused when he was 14 to 16 years old in the early to mid-1970s by then priest Joseph Cashman. The lawsuit claims the defendants were negligent in protecting the juvenile plaintiff from being victimized by Cashman, who was suspended from his ministerial privileges as a priest in 1992. He died in 2014.

According to a biography on the diocese website, in 1986 the church became aware of “inappropriate sexual contact” between Cashman and an adult seminarian. It goes on to say that the diocese was later informed of allegations of “sexual approaches” to underage males and then learned of “actual sexual contacts” with minor students.

The Rochester Catholic Schools responded to the lawsuit today by issuing a short statement.

“We are aware that litigation has been initiated related to sexual abuse claims stemming from the 1970s at Lourdes High School. This litigation was expected and contemplated in the Diocese bankruptcy case. Rochester Catholic Schools is committed to ensuring a safe environment for staff and all of those entrusted to our care. We cannot comment further on pending litigation at this time.”

The lawsuit contends the plaintiff “has suffered, and will continue to suffer, great pain of mind and body, severe and permanent emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation, and physical-personal and psychological injuries.” It seeks at least $50,000 in damages.

In 2018, the Diocese of Winona filed for bankruptcy as a result of its liability in clergy sexual abuse cases. Three years ago, the diocese settled with more than 100 clergy abuse victims for about $28 million.

Read More: Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Rochester Lourdes HS