St. John's Abbey Discloses Names of 18 Monks Suspected of Child Sex Abuse

By Emily Gurnon
Pioneer Press
December 9, 2013

In a 2002 photo, Abbot John Klassen talks about the situation at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, where between 13 and 15 monks or priests accused of sexual misconduct are living. Behind Klassen is a mural depicting a scene from St. Gregory's Dialogues. (Pioneer Press file photo)

St. John's Abbey has released a list of monks "likely to have offended against minors," according to a Monday statement from the Roman Catholic monastery in Collegeville, Minn.

Most of the 18 names had been made public previously.

Of the monks listed on the abbey website and released to the media Monday, seven are dead, two have been "dispensed from their religious vows and are no longer connected to the abbey" and nine are living at the abbey under supervision, Abbot John Klassen said the statement.

The living monks are: Michael Bik, Richard Eckroth, Thomas Gillespie, Brennan Maiers, Finian McDonald, Dunstan Moorse, James Phillips, Francisco Schulte and Allen Tarlton.

Those deceased are Andre Bennett, Robert Blumeyer, Cosmas Dahlheimer, Othmar Hohmann, Dominic Keller, Pirmin Wendt and Bruce Wollmering.

The two who are no longer monks are Francis Hoefgen and John Kelly.

"As we pursue important work in many areas, I am determined that this ugly stain become a permanent part of our collective memory so that we are ever mindful of our commitment to do everything possible to assure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated," Klassen wrote in the statement.

The Pioneer Press tried to contact each of the priests. Most were not listed. A message left for McDonald was not returned Monday. Phillips hung up on a reporter.

A person at the St. John's main switchboard said, "We are not authorized to put anybody from the press in contact with these individuals." He declined to leave messages for them.

Allegations against the monks were reviewed either by Klassen or by the abbey's external review board, the statement said.

The board was created in 2003 in a settlement with more than a dozen victims of sexual abuse by monks.

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented victims in that case, said the release of the list Monday was "a big step forward."

"This disclosure helps us and the survivors come together because we all want the same thing -- for kids to be protected and the truth to be known," Anderson said.

The abbey released a similar list of 18 names in April 2011. It was described as including monks with "credible allegations of sexual abuse, exploitation or misconduct brought against them while they were working in one of the apostolates of St. John's Abbey, or before they were a member of the abbey."

St. John's kept the list on its website temporarily. It included four names missing from the new list: former Abbot John Eidenschink, Steven Lilly, James Kelly and Isaac Connolly.

Patrick Marker, a victims' advocate who runs the website, said the allegations against Eidenschink, Lilly and Kelly involved adults.

A spokesman for St. John's Abbey did not respond Monday to a message seeking clarification on the two separate lists.

Previous news reports contained allegations about some of the monks.

Bik was accused in 1997 of abusing two teenage boys in the 1970s, before his ordination, when he taught at the parish school of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Anoka.

Two men accused Eckroth in 1993 of raping them at a St. John's-owned cabin near Bemidji in the 1970s when they were boys. He denied raping them but admitted being naked with them.

Three men filed lawsuits alleging abuse by Schulte when he served in Raleigh, N.C., in the mid-1980s, and at a Puerto Rico boarding school operated by St. John's. One of the men from Raleigh said Schulte recruited him to come to St. John's Preparatory School in Collegeville.

McDonald, Maiers, Moorse, Tarlton, Hoefgen and Kelly acknowledged wrongdoing and sought treatment, Klassen said in 2002.

Dahlheimer denied the allegations, Klassen said.

Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called on St. John's to do more than list the names of accused monks. She said the abbey should:

-- Permanently post the names on its websites.

-- Provide the monks' work histories, photos and current locations.

-- Place them in a "remote, secure, independent treatment center far away from kids" and families who have trusted them.

-- Ask victims, witnesses and whistle-blowers to report crimes to police.

-- Urge the St. Cloud bishop to post the names in parish bulletins and websites.

St. John's Abbey is a community of Benedictine monks. Some of the monks serve parishes in the Diocese of St. Cloud and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Benedictine monasteries are autonomous entities, the St. John's Abbey spokesman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.









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