Lawsuit Says Minn. Archdiocese Helped Priest Flee

Associated Press, carried in Jamestown Sun
September 10, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn.

Top officials with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis helped an Ecuadorean priest flee the United States after he allegedly molested a 4-year-old girl, a lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court, names the Twin Cities Roman Catholic archdiocese, as well as the Diocese of Guaranda in Ecuador and the Rev. Francisco "Fredy" Montero Monar, who came here in 2002 and returned to Ecuador in July 2007 after police questioned him about the abuse allegations.

Montero was working at a Minneapolis church as part of an exchange program when he molested the girl repeatedly in or around March and April of 2007, the lawsuit alleges. Minneapolis police arrested and questioned him, but he was released from jail and Hennepin County prosecutors never charged him.

The lawsuit was filed by St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who specializes in clergy sex abuse cases, on behalf of the girl, who is listed only as "Jane Doe 120." The girl and her mother attended the Church of the Incarnation in Minneapolis, where Montero was assigned.

"The Diocese of Guaranda sent an agent whom they knew or should have known was dangerous and unfit to Minnesota where they knew he would work with vulnerable adults and youth," the lawsuit alleges. It seeks more than $50,000 in damages.

For part of his time in Minnesota, Montero lived with the Rev. Kevin McDonough, vicar general of the archdiocese.

The archdiocese issued a statement saying its officials "had absolutely no role" in Montero's return to Ecuador. The statement said the allegations that the priest sexually abused the girl were reported to his bishop in Ecuador, and that his bishop recalled him. His five-year assignment in the archdiocese was almost over, and since there were no pending charges he was free to go, the statement said.

"The Archdiocese informed police of that fact," the statement said.

While Montero did live for six months at the priests' rectory at the Church of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, where McDonough is pastor, McDonough has hosted a number of foreign priests during their stays or visits here, the statement said.

"He was a guest and Father McDonough was not his keeper," it said.

The archdiocese said it couldn't comment on the truth of the abuse allegations. But it said that after the girl's mother reported the abuse allegations to the archdiocese, church officials contacted police the same day.

The statement said the mother told the archdiocese it was unclear whether abuse had happened, and that she also admitted she was having an affair with the priest and said she didn't want to lose him.

Bishop Richard Pates, who was the auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, notified the bishop of Guaranda, Ecuador, about the abuse and affair allegations by phone and by letter in July 2007.

In the letter, released by Anderson, Pates also wrote that police were checking Montero's computer for pornography, and said that there were suspicions that Montero might have misappropriated money here, though he had not been charged with that.

Pates also told Bishop Angel Sanchez Loaiza of Guaranda that Montero had been relieved of his priestly duties and barred from ministering here and was apparently getting ready to return to Ecuador.

Paul Engh, who served as Montero's personal attorney when he was arrested, deferred comment on the case to the archdiocese and said he hadn't been formally retained to represent Montero in the lawsuit.


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