Lawsuit Seeks Names of 13 Priests Accused of Abuse
By Kay Fate
August 29, 2013
|Holding a photo of himself as a boy, Bill Beardmore of Boone, Iowa, right, speaks about his lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona. Beardmore says that as a child he was sexually abused by Thomas Adamson while Adamson was a priest in Caledonia. At left is Beardmore's attorney, Jeff Anderson, of St. Paul.|
Tears came to Bill Beardmore's eyes as he described a 2002 meeting with officials from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona.
"It made me feel like I was interrogated," he said Thursday. "I'd like to make it known that I was raped by a priest on a number of occasions, but I went away from that day feeling really terrible. I felt like I was the bad guy. But I was a little kid. I was an altar boy; I didn't bring this on."
Beardmore is one of a number of men to sue the diocese, accusing its top officials of allowing priests continued access to children, despite reports of inappropriate sexual behavior with young boys.
The lawsuit was filed late Wednesday in Winona County District Court by Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul lawyer, on behalf of Beardmore, now 61 and living in Boone, Iowa.
The lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess of $50,000, accuses former priest Thomas Adamson of sexual battery and seeks the release of a list naming 13 "credibly accused child predators" from within the diocese. The suit also seeks information concerning Adamson's other assignments in Rochester, Caledonia, Winona, Adrian, Hammond, Fountain, Albert Lea and Wykoff.
Beardmore said the abuse happened in 1963-64 while Adamson was serving at St. John's Catholic Church in Caledonia.
The lawsuit was made possible by the Minnesota Child Victims Act. Enacted in May, the law eliminated the six-year civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims and opened a three-year window for past victims to file suit against the perpetrator and the institution that may have allowed the abuse.
Adamson "never spent a day in jail, was never prosecuted, because the bishops of the Diocese of Winona concealed (the abuse) beyond the statute of limitations," Anderson said. "They chose to let it continue to uphold their own reputation."
A statement released Thursday by the diocese said all priests who've been credibly accused of sexual misconduct of a minor have been removed from active ministry, "and many of the priests who have been credibly accused … in the past are deceased."
The diocese has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit in court.
Beardmore called the alleged abuse "the most devastating thing in my life. I seriously contemplated at one time being a priest; that completely went away. My faith is gone, my trust in many people is gone. It's been tough."
He encouraged other victims to step forward.
"They don't have to feel like I did, that they did something wrong," Beardmore said. "Now there's some accountability, not only by the priests, but the bishops and the diocese."
That includes the list of 13 priests who haven't been identified by church officials, Anderson emphasized.
"We want to force the diocese to come forward and be clean," he said. "The real culprits here are the ones that chose to keep it a secret."
The Diocese of Winona announced in March 2012 that Adamson had returned to his hometown of Rochester, and that he was not permitted on diocesan church or school property.