Diocese Sets 2nd Session to Focus on Deacon

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times
December 18, 2011

The St. Cloud diocese plans to have a listening session Monday night at Church of the Holy Spirit even though the diocese and a former deacon at Holy Spirit were named as defendants this week in a lawsuit.

The listening session is the second to focus on Michael W. Weber, who was a transitional deacon at Holy Spirit in 1969 and 1970. At least five people have filed reports with law enforcement accusing Weber of sexually abusing them in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Weber in the early 1970s abandoned his path to join the priesthood and went on to an award-winning career in child protection that saw him attain jobs as director of Hennepin County Community Services and assistant commissioner for the state Department of Human Services.

Weber also was associate director of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, director of the Program for the Community Protection of Children and chairman of the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect.

The lawsuit last week was filed by a man who lives in the state of Virginia and accuses Weber, a Foley native and St. John's University graduate, of sexual abuse, and the diocese of covering it up.

The lawsuit says three male victims have accused Weber of sexually abusing them from 1968-1970. A complaint filed with St. Cloud police in 2009 refers to a fourth male victim from more than 40 years ago.

Some of the abuse is alleged to have happened at Weber's family home in Foley. The Virginia man accuses Weber of abusing him during an Alexandria camping trip in 1970 that the boy's family took with other Catholic families.

Messages left for Weber and his attorney, Francis Rondoni, have not been returned.

The sexual misconduct allegations against Weber were reported first in the Times in late November, and the diocese had a listening session Dec. 4. The diocese scheduled a second listening session in response to the many questions and comments received at the first session, said spokeswoman Jane Marrin.

The diocese has said it considers the allegations against Weber to be credible.

Monday's session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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