2 Priests Accused of Child Sex Abuse Say It Was Kissing

By Emily Gurnon
Pioneer Press
December 6, 2013

Paul Palmitessa (Pioneer Press file photo)

The Rev. Dennis Kampa talks to reporters in May 2002 as spokesman for the family of Luke John Helder, a Pine Island, Minn., man accused of planting pipe bombs. Kampa is one of 34 priests listed as "credibly accused" of child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. (Mike Ekern/Getty Images)

Richard Jeub called what happened at Our Lady of Grace church in Edina "stupid stuff done when I was young."

Jeub was among 34 priests the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis deemed "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children, according to a list released by the church Thursday.

Ten of the priests have since died. Another is believed dead. One, Curtis Wehmeyer, is in prison for sexually abusing two boys.

All the priests are out of the ministry, the archdiocese said.

The Pioneer Press tried to contact each living priest on the list. Of those for whom phone numbers were found, three were reached.

Jeub, 73, was one. Another was Dennis Kampa of Virginia, Minn., who said he never understood the charge against him. The third, 93-year-old John Thomas Brown, was hard of hearing and unable to understand a reporter.

Reached at his home Friday in Crosby, Jeub said abuse of a minor can encompass a wide range of actions.

"I'm guilty of kissing two teenage girls (in Edina) without their permission," he said. "One thing gets painted with a big, broad, black brush. It's serious -- it's stuff that shouldn't have been done. People suffered because of it. I'm not minimizing it."

But it happened 40 years ago, he said. He was in his 30s. And he has committed nothing else that could be considered sexual abuse of a child since, he said. He later served at St. Rose of Lima church in Roseville.

Other "transgressions" have involved adult women, Jeub said. "Celibacy and I have not been the best of friends," he said.

Jeub was sued by one of the women he admits kissing on the mouth when she was a girl. She alleged that Jeub also inappropriately touched her and made remarks about her body while she was a "naive" 15-year-old.

Jeub said the kissing -- including once in front of her friends at her 16th birthday party -- was all there was. Any comments consisted of messages that her body was OK as it was, reassurances for a girl who believed she was overweight, he said.

That case resulted in a settlement.

Another lawsuit involved a third woman who took the case to trial in Hennepin County. She alleged Jeub sexually abused her from 1967 to 1970 while she was an adolescent at the Edina church. The jury ruled in Jeub's favor.

"Nothing that that woman said was true," Jeub said. "All I can say is she had a vivid imagination."

Jeub said treatment he received in 1989, after the allegations were made, was "one of the best things in my life. I understand myself a lot better now than I did then."

Nearly half the parishes in the archdiocese -- 92 out of 188 -- have had at least one offending priest, the archdiocese reported Thursday.

The list of abusive priests came out of a 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. The study counted victims of clergy sexual abuse over the previous 50 years, with perpetrators' names provided by the dioceses and archdioceses.

Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North on Monday told the Twin Cities archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona to release their lists by Dec. 17. The Winona diocese has yet to make its list public.

Dennis Kampa said he was stunned when he was sued in Hennepin County in 1995 by a woman who said he abused her in the 1980s. The woman said the abuse occurred from age 13 to 16 years old during Kampa's time as pastor of St. Vincent de Paul in Osseo.

Kampa, 81, now lives with his sister in Virginia, Minn.

"I certainly deny that I abused her in any way," he said of his accuser. "I feel bad that she feels that way about it, because I got to know the family very well."

The girl was about 8 when he first came to the church, Kampa said. "The kids were friendly," he said. "I would talk to them, put my arm around them, but never any sexual thing."

On the day of a festival, when the girl was older, Kampa said, he was caught up in the excitement.

"I said, 'Boy, we're gonna win some prizes today.' I gave her a kiss on the lips and a hug. Just, you know, (like) a member of the family in a way."

He was in his 50s at the time.

Kampa said he wishes the woman had dealt with the encounter in some way other than going to court many years later.

"If she would have said (as a girl), 'Get away from me, I don't like what you're doing,' (but) it was never anything like that," he said.

Archdiocese officials suggested he retire when the allegations arose, and he agreed, Kampa said. No others accused him of abuse, he said.

The Pioneer Press was unable Friday to reach the women who made allegations against Jeub and Kampa.

Brown, who lives at a Maplewood senior complex, was sued in July by David Pususta of St. Paul. Pususta alleged Brown gave him "sex education" sessions that included touching the boy's genitals when he was 10 in Waverly, Minn., in the 1960s.

Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522. Follow her at

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