Assignment Record – Rev. Robert Michael Thurner

Summary of Case: Thurner admitted to archdiocesan officials in 1982 to having "sexual contact" with a boy. He was allowed to remain pastor of a Minnesota parish until six months later, when an allegation surfaced that he had sexually abused another boy. Thurner went on to serve at three more parishes. He abruptly retired in December 1991, just before a lawsuit was filed by the person he admitted to abusing. In 1993 Thurner was accused in another lawsuit of the sexual abuse of a boy from 1972 to 1977, beginning when the boy was 16 years old. Thurner admitted to "sexual contact" with this accuser as well. Thurner is said to have plied his victims with pornography and alcohol. In October 2013 Thurner was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl in the mid-1980s.

: 1951
Incardinated: St. Paul
Retired: December 1991


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


St. Paul archbishop was John Gregory Murray (1931-1956), followed by William Otterwell Brady (1956-1961). Brady was replaced by Leo Binz (1961-1975) The archdiocese became known in 1966 as St. Paul and Minneapolis.

1963 Most Holy Trinity Minneapolis (St. Louis Park) MN 2/2 Most Holy Trinity had a school with 237-369 students.
1963 1967 St. Luke's St. Paul MN 2/5 St. Luke's had a school with 1,430-1,252 students.
1967 1970 St. Michael's Prior Lake MN 1/1 St. Michael's had a school with 247-243 students.


Binz was succeeded by John Robert Roach (1975-1995)

1983 St. John the Evangelist's


Turner was accused in a 1993 lawsuit of the sexual abuse of a boy, beginning in 1972 when the boy was 16, and continuing until 1977. Thurner admitted to "sexual contact" maybe one time before the boy turned 18. Turner is said to have plied the boy with alcohol.


Thurner admitted when confronted by church officials in Nov. 1982 that he was "having sex with" a boy. He is said to have plied the boy with alcohol and pornography. After admitting to the sexual abuse of a boy, Thurner wrote a letter of resignation, which was not accepted. He continued to pastor at St. John's until six months later, when another accusation surfaced.

MN 1/2, 1/1

St. John's had a school with 196 students; in 1971 it consolidated with other area parochial schools.

After the second accusation, Thurner was transferred out of St. John's to another parish. The 'sexual contact' with the first boy is said to have begun in 1980 and continued until 1984, when the boy was a young adult.

1983 1986 St. Joseph's

West St. Paul

Accused in a lawsuit filed in October 2013 of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl, who was a second-grader at the parish school.


MN 2/2 St. Joseph's had a school with 528-505 students.
1986 1986 St. Edward's Bloomington MN temporary administrator Thurner served at St. Edward's brieflly, per new reports.
June 1986 Dec. 1991 St. Therese's St. Paul MN 1/2, 1/1

Consolidated school, Highland Catholic in St. Paul.

Thurner "retired" abruptly in Dec. 1991 just before a lawsuit was filed by the person Thurner admitted in 1982 to having sexually abused.


Harry Joseph Flynn followed Roach as St. Paul and Minneapolis archbishop (1995-2008)

2001 Retired; Chancery Pro Tem St. Paul MN   Address listed is that of the Leo Byrne Residence, St. Paul, MN.
2001 2002 Retired St. Paul MN  

Address listed is that of the Leo Byrne Residence, St. Paul, MN.

Thurner is not indexed beyond the 2002 Directory.

Per the archdiocese, Thurner was permanently removed from ministry in 2002.

In December 2013 Thurner was living in Maplewood, MN.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1952-2002)

Priest Allegedly Admits Sexually Abusing Boy, Lawyer Says Abuse Continued for Years, By Paul McEnroe, Star Tribune, December 5, 1991
Archdiocese Targeted in Lawsuits Alleging Sexual Abuse by 2 Priests, St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 06, 1991
Man Sues Former priest, Alleging Sex Abuse, Associated Press, carried in Star Tribune, January 16, 1993
Pioneer Press 11.03.93; St Paul & Minneapolis List of Credibly Accused Priests, released December 5, 2013
 Priest Sued in Abuse of West St. Paul Girl, 8, in the 1980s, By Jean Hopfensperger, The Star Tribue, October 30, 2013  

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Thurner's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on June 19, 2020.