Accused Abusers List Remains Private: Suit against Former Winona Priest Triggers Hearing

By Kevin Behr
Winona Daily News
April 9, 2009

A judge is considering whether to make public the names of 13 priests accused of sexual abuse who served in the Winona Diocese.

A partial list of those names is already in the hands of an attorney representing a man identified in court papers as "John Doe 76C," who has sued former Winona priest Thomas Adamson for sexually abusing him while he was an altar boy at an Apple Valley, Minn., church between 1980 and 1982.

Adamson was a priest in the Winona diocese between 1958 and 1975 when he was transferred to the Twin Cities archdiocese to receive sexual-abuse treatment. He admitted as early as 1964 to sexually abusing boys under his supervision.

The attorney, Jeff Anderson, wants to use the list at trial in June and make it public. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona, which are also defendants in the Adamson suit, are seeking to keep the list out of the public eye.

The list also contains the names of 33 other priests who served in the archdiocese. None of the 46 have been in active ministry since, at latest, 2002, and the names of all but 10 from the archdiocese and five from the Diocese of Winona have already been publicly disclosed, attorneys said Wednesday in court.

Anderson said the archdiocese won't release the names out of embarrassment and for "job protection."

"They want to muzzle me," said Anderson, who has filed numerous lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests.

In a written statement from the archdiocese, spokesman Dennis McGrath said the list contains the names of 10 priests who have not been charged publicly with any wrongdoing. He said it is "grossly unfair and highly inaccurate" to characterize the archdiocese's stance as an attempt to keep the information a "secret."

Rose Hammes, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Winona, also issued a written statement, saying the diocese is committed to protecting children. Any priest credibly accused of abuse is removed from the ministry, she said.

Ramsey County District Judge Gregg Johnson said he would take the case under advisement and make a ruling in about two weeks.


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