Clergy sex abuse lawsuit connected to deceased Rochester priest dismissed by federal judge

KAAL-TV, ABC-6 [Austin MN]

August 26, 2023

By James Wilcox

A federal lawsuit accusing the Vatican of covering up clergy sex abuse was dismissed this week in U.S. District Court.

The suit, filed in 2019, was filed on behalf of five men who claim they were victims of sexual abuse by priests within the  Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles between 1979 and 1984.

One of the accusers alleged Thomas Adamson abused him in 1981 while Adamson was a priest in Apple Valley.

In a 2014 deposition for a separate sex abuse lawsuit, Adamson admitted sexually abusing ten boys during his time in the priesthood between the 1960s and 1980s. He worked at churches and Catholic schools across Southeastern Minnesota and the Twin Cities including Rochester, Winona, Harmony, Caledonia, and Albert Lea.

It was cases against Adamson that exposed a sex abuse scandal involving dozens of priests in Minnesota and a historic $210 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul and another settlement with the Diocese of Winona for $28 million.

In the 2019  lawsuit against the Vatican, the court ruled that the Vatican is exempt from U.S. lawsuits under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and the law’s limited exceptions do not apply in this case.

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson and his firm filed the lawsuit against the Vatican and helped reach the settlements with The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona. He’s helped victims of clergy sex abuse receive hundreds of millions of dollars. Thomas Adamson is the first priest he investigated.

“For decades, we have fought on behalf of brave survivors who want only one thing: to expose abuse and cover-up so that what happened to them will not happen to another child,” Anderson said.

Anderson has sued the Vatican in the past but has yet to be successful in his efforts. But he isn’t swayed and vows to continue holding the Catholic church accountable for years of abuse and cover-up.

“We and every survivor know that the only way that priests like Thomas Adamson and others were able to be ordained and assigned to parishes is through the explicit permission and knowledge of Vatican officials,” Anderson said. “Until those officials are forced to turn over documents and sit in a courtroom and testify, children will still  be at risk, and survivors will not have complete Justice.”

In July, Anderson’s firm filed four new lawsuits naming the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Lourdes High School, and others. The suits allege victims involved in the 2021 settlement aren’t being paid by an insurance company.

“We have helped make it safer, but we still have more work to do. The journey is not over,” Anderson said.

Jeff Anderson & Associates has helped victims of abuse within the Boy Scouts of America, schools, and entertainment in addition to the Catholic church. The firm is considered one of the nation’s premier law firms representing victims of childhood sexual abuse