Retired Ashland Priest Accused in Sexual Abuse Complaint

December 31, 2011

BILLINGS- A legal complaint was filed Friday in the Cascade County District Court in Great Falls by a Northern Cheyenne tribal member claiming she was abused as a young girl by a popular Catholic priest in the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

The woman, who is choosing to remain anonymous, says Fr. Emmett Hoffmann sexually abused her from the mid-1950's to the early 1960's.

That information was sent out in a press release this weekend by the defendant's attorney, Vito de la Cruz (of a Yakima, Washington law firm), and claims the abuse began as a form of discipline and evolved into penetration and eventually rape.

In the release from Vito de la Cruz, Hoffmann is described as a hero in the eyes of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe:

"...hailed by some as a priest who did good things for the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe. The subject of the book, The Renegade Priest, depicts Hoffmann's success in converting tribal members to Catholicism. In 1961, Hoffmann (called "Father Emmett" by his faithful), was made an honorary Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Council of 44."

The statement continues by saying that the alleged victim, who is now in her 60's, is now coming forward because she feels that her tribe deserves to know the truth about Hoffman.

The complaint states that Hoffmann was employed by the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin (OFM/CAP), the St. Labre Mission School in Ashland, Montana , and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.

All are named defendants in the complaint filed on Friday.

The release also claims that Hoffmann currently lives in a retirement community on the reservation.

The complaint calls for unspecific damages as well as the current bishop of the diocese, Rev. Michael Warfel, and the Order of Friars Minor to publically acknowledge the suffering caused by the abuse.

In the release, de la Cruz says the demand "will ensure a safer future for children entrusted to the Bishop and OFM/CAP in Montana and elsewhere."


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