Breaking News: Priest Who Worked at St. Odilia in 1970s Found Libel in Sexual Abuse Settlement

By Michelle Miron
Shoreview Press
February 6, 2009

ST. PAUL — St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson announced Feb. 6 that nine adult victims will share a $1.7 million settlement in a sexual abuse case against the Roman Catholic Order of Crosiers, which operated a community in Shoreview between 1995 and 2005.

The civic case included accusations of abuse against Rev. Gerald Funcheon, a priest who worked at Shoreview's St. Odilia Catholic Church and at its parochial school in the early1970s.

Those making accusations against Funcheon were David Bidnet of Hinckley, Minn; Fred Guenther of Roseville, Minn. and another unnamed man. All three said the abuse happened when Funcheon worked at St. Odilia. Funcheon left the Crosiers in the 1980s.

Contacted Feb. 6, St. Odilia Administrator Tom Schumacher said the church had no comment on the case. He did confirm that Funcheon was never the pastor of St. Odilia's.

"We're not named in the lawsuit at all, so we really can't comment, other than that we're hoping and praying for the healing of the victims," Schumacher said.

In documents, Bidney reported that Funcheon molested him when he was between the ages of 10 and 13. A timeline of events posted on Anderson's Website notes two other accusations against Funcheon while the priest worked at St. Odilia:

• "John Doe 10" noted 10 different occasions of abuse by Funcheon during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

• "John Doe 7" was fondled by Funcheon three times while Funcheon was a teacher of health education and gym at St. Odilia Catholic School.

Fr. Thomas R. Carkhuff, prior provincial of the U.S. Crosier Province, issued the following statement on the Crosier Website Feb. 5:

"Through this settlement we are working to respond to these men with a sense of justice, and we hope this settlement helps them move toward peace of heart and healing in their lives. We are deeply sorry for these wrongs that were committed in the past by some Crosiers, and for the pain that this abuse has caused these men and their families."

Eight of those making accusations in the case were not named as plaintiffs, since the statute of limitations for cases of abuse against minors runs out at age 24. The eight men will share a $500,000 settlement while the plaintiff, Bob Skjonsby, will receive $1.2 million.

As part of the settlement, the Crosiers must release documents related to such allegations, implement measures against such incidents and publicly disclose the names of its other living employees subject to credible allegations of sexual abuse.

The other three priests and brothers involved in the settlement were Roger Vaughn, Gregory Madigan and Gabriel Guerrero. A statement from the Crosiers said Guerrero and Madigan were removed from public ministry after being identified publicly in a Crosier-commissioned third-party investigation of sexual misconduct in 2002.

The scope of the abuse that was part of the suit reportedly look place in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Other locations the brothers or priests worked at during that time frame included Holy Cross Catholic Church in Onamia (including a boarding school seminary for boys there); Sacred Heart Parish in Wahkon, Minn.; and a Crosier community in Indiana. Crosiers were also involved in a program called Teens Encounter Christ.

According to its Website, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers, officially known as the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross, is a religious community of men founded nearly 800 years ago in Belgium. It established a presence in the United States in 1910 and its U.S. Province was headquartered in Shoreview between 1995 and 2005 (the order owned property at 3510 Vivian Ave.) after which it relocated to Phoenix, Ariz. It still runs a community in Onamia.


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