Twin Cities Survivor of Priest Sex Abuse Criticizes Church

By Emily Gurnon
Pioneer Press
October 10, 2013

Dale Scheffler speaks Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in front of Catholic archdiocese offices in St. Paul. (Pioneer Press: Emily Gurnon)

A Twin Cities man who won a 1996 civil case alleging sexual abuse by Rev. Robert Kapoun said Thursday he is sickened at the Roman Catholic church's response to reports of predator priests.

Dale Scheffler, speaking at a news conference outside the offices of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, said he did not understand why church officials were convening another clergy misconduct board.

"Why are they saying they're gonna start another board? I've heard so much about these boards -- it's sickening," Scheffler said. "It makes your stomach turn."

The archdiocese said Sunday that it was forming a Safe Environment and Ministerial Standards Task Force to examine policies and procedures of the archdiocese in the area of clergy misconduct. It met for the first time Wednesday.

A previous board was assembled in 1995 by then-Archbishop John Roach. The archdiocese first published a policy on prevention of and response to sexual misconduct in 1992, according to its website.

Scheffler, who said he is in his 40s, called on Catholics to take action against priest abuse.

"Where is everybody out there?" he said, his voice breaking. "Why aren't you guys standing up? You send your money to (the Catholic) church. For what? For them to run out on the street and hurt kids?!"

A Wednesday report by Minnesota Public Radio quoted Kapoun -- dubbed the "polka padre" for his polka Masses and recordings -- as saying he is living without supervision in a lakefront home he inherited from his parents in Cold Spring, Minn. He was also receiving extra payments, beyond his pension, of $957 a month, MPR reported.

Archdiocese spokesman James Accurso said he believed Kapoun is being supervised.

A Hennepin County jury determined that Scheffler was sexually abused by Kapoun when Scheffler was a child. Scheffler was awarded a $3.5 million civil judgment that was later tossed out by the state's appeals court because the then-statute of limitations had expired.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said at the press conference that the archdiocese should publicize the names of all priests "proven, admitted and credibly accused" of sexual abuse.

Even when taken out of ministry, as Kapoun was, abusive priests may still have access to children, Clohessy said.

The archdiocese has come under fire in recent weeks for its handling of two cases. One involves the Rev. Jonathan Shelley, who owned a computer in 2004 that was later found to have pornographic images on it. Shelley, 52, was the priest at St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi at the time. Police are investigating whether the images were child pornography.

Law enforcement did not become involved until a former official of the archdiocese, who resigned in April, contacted the Ramsey County attorney's office.

Shelley has not been charged.

The other case on which the archdiocese is alleged to have withheld information is that of Curtis Wehmeyer, who was sentenced to prison this year for sexual abuse of two boys. He was known by church officials to have cruised a bookstore and propositioned strangers for sex, according to a church memo.









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