Priest Accused in Edina Brothers" Assault

By Rose French
Star Tribune
November 17, 2010

A lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges the late Rev. Thomas Stitts assaulted four Edina brothers starting in the 1960s.

Four brothers from Edina filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis claiming they are among the victims who were sexually abused for years by a Twin Cities priest.

The St. Paul law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates filed the suit in Ramsey County District Court on behalf of the brothers, who say from 1967 to 1973, when they were 7 to 14 years of age, they were sexually assaulted by the Rev. Thomas Stitts, a priest who at the time was assigned to Our Lady of Grace church in Edina.

The lawsuit is the fourth complaint concerning Stitts brought against the archdiocese by the Anderson law firm, which specializes in clergy abuse suits. The lawsuits seek damages from the archdiocese for a total of 11 victims.

All the suits charge that the archdiocese knew of abuse complaints against Stitts in the late 1960s and early '70s but did nothing to prevent further abuse. Stitts was employed by the archdiocese from 1962 through 1985, when he died.

The archdiocese has denied that it covered up reports about the priest's alleged conduct. Archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath said in a statement Wednesday that the archdiocese "is always deeply saddened to learn about reports of clergy sexual abuse."

"These reports were never brought to us. These plaintiffs never told us of these alleged offenses nor did they seek our assistance for any therapy or counseling," McGrath said. "We are mandatory reporters and have openly, repeatedly and broadly encouraged all victims of sexual abuse to contact us as we have offered assistance to such victims for many years."

Patrick Noaker, an attorney for the victims, said he believes there are "probably more victims out there, but I hope there aren't. It sure seems as if Father Stitts was an incredibly prolific abuser."


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