St Johns Monks Accused of Major Sex Crime Cover-Up

December 9, 2009

COLLEGEVILLE -- What some might call a disturbing lawsuit was filed in Stearns County Tuesday alleging the cover-up of nearly 25 years of sex crimes committed by 11 Benedictine monks at St. John's Abbey.

In the lawsuit, filed by the alleged victim Jeremiah McCarthy, the Benedictines are accused of fraud by intentionally concealing evidence and protecting predatory priests who are either at St. John's or who have spent time there.

"St. John's had an entire culture of concealed sexual misconduct by their priests and they had numerous priests at the Abbey, at St. John's Prep and at St. John's University who were sexually abusing kids consistently, year after year," McCarthy's attorney Patrick Noaker said.

The lawsuit was made public during a press conference at the Stearns County Courthouse Tuesday where McCarthy spoke for the first time.

McCarthy alleges the late Father Bruce Wollmering sexually victimized him during various school sponsored activities in 1971.

He also said he did not report the abuse at the time, but that after learning of Father Wollerming's death and subsequent accusations from other alleged victims he felt it was time to come forward.

"It definitely changed my idea of not only the church, my religion, priests, but yes, God, too," McCarthy said.

The lawsuit also lists the names of ten other priests and dozens of similar acts of sexual misconduct allegedly covered up by church officials.

St. John's released a public statement Tuesday afternoon saying the school does not tolerate any type of sexual misconduct.

The statement reads:

"Saint John's has learned of a possible lawsuit earlier today, which we plan to carefully review. The individual named in the lawsuit was the subject of a press release by the abbey in July of 2006. Saint John's takes the issue of sexual misconduct very seriously, and over many years, has worked to ensure that policies and procedures on human rights are followed and enforced. Saint John's policies are clear and longstanding: we do not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form."

Noaker said the next step will be for St. John's to answer each allegation. After enough information is gathered, the lawsuit might proceed to trial.

Written for the web by Megan Brown and Matt Standal




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