Lawsuit Alleges Benedictines Covered up Abuse Allegations

Star Tribune
December 8, 2009

ST CLOUD -- A lawsuit filed in St. Cloud Tuesday accuses the Benedictine Order of covering up sex-abuse allegations that were made against 11 clerics working at St. John's University in Collegeville in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

Jeramiah McCarthy filed the suit, which alleges that he was molested in 1971 by the late Rev. Bruce Wollmering, an academic counselor. In 2006, investigators determined that similar accusations against Wollmering by a different student were credible.

McCarthy's suit follows a legal tactic used in six other cases filed in Minnesota and two in North Dakota. Those suits involved the Christian Brothers. This is the first for the Benedictine Order.

Instead of suing for the alleged abuses, for which the statute of limitations has expired, the suits charge the orders with concealing the reports of abuse and, thus, putting other potential victims at risk. A judge has yet to rule on the merit of this argument.

McCarthy's suit names Wollmering and 10 others who purportedly abused St. John's students from the early 1960s to 1985. The names of the accused are on a list compiled by a review board that was created at St. John's Abbey in 2002.

The abbey released a statement saying it had been informed of the suit, "which we plan to carefully review." It added that its "policies are clear and long-standing: We do not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.