4 Former Local Priests Included in List of Accused Priests

Albert Lea Tribune
December 16, 2013

The Diocese of Winona on Monday released a list of 14 priests accused of sexually abusing minors, including two former Albert Lea priests, one who served in New Richland and another in Wells.

The southeastern Minnesota diocese filed the list in Ramsey County District Court, a day before the deadline set by a Ramsey County judge.

All four of the local priests served in the 1950s and ’60s. They are the following:

• Thomas P. Adamson, now 80, who served a stint at St. Theodore Catholic Church in Albert Lea in the 1960s, faces a civil lawsuit in Ramsey County over allegations of sexual abuse. His name was on the list released last week of accused priests by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Adamson, ordained in 1958, served at the St. Theodore Catholic Church parish in 1967 and 1968, at which time he was also chaplain of Lea College, an institution of higher learning on the west side of Albert Lea that shut down in 1973. He was removed from the ministry in 1984 and lives in Rochester.

• William D. Curtis served at the St. Theodore parish starting in August 1968, where he served until receiving a new assignment at St. Teresa in Mapleton in January 1976.

He was ordained in May 1947, and his ministerial privileges were suspended in July 1990. He died in April 2001 at the age of 81.

• Ferdinand L. Kaiser, ordained in 1937, served at the All Saints parish in New Richland starting Dec. 3, 1952, until he received a new assignment in April 1967 in Iosco.

He voluntarily resigned in March 1968 and died in January 1973 at the age of 62.

• Leland J. Smith, 86, served at the St. Casimir parish in Wells, which includes both a church and a school, starting in August 1960. After a three-year stint, he was reassigned to Avoca and Lake Wilson.

His ministerial privileges were indefinitely suspended in 1994. Laicization, or the process of permanently removing his ministerial privileges, is pending. He resides in Winona.

Others on the list are:

• Louis G. Cook, ordained in 1958, served at Austin’s Queen of Angels Catholic Church in 1970 and Austin’s St. Augustine Church in 2000. He died in November 2004 at 80 years old.

• Jack L. Krough, 64, was ordained in 1976 and began serving at Austin’s St. Augustine Church and Pacelli Catholic Schools in June 1976. He also served at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Austin and Brownsdale’s Our Lady of Loretto in 1996. His ministerial privileges were suspended in June of 2002 indefinitely; laicization is pending. Krough lives in Barron, Wis.

• Sylvester Brown, ordained in 1956, served at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth starting in July 1974.

He also served at St. Mary School and State School in Owatonna, along with multiple locations in Winona and Janesville.

He died in January 2010 at the age of 80.

• Joseph C. Cashman, 79, ordained in 1960, served at parishes in Winona, Rochester, Mankato, Good Thunder, Mantorville and Caledonia.

His ministerial privileges were suspended in September 1992, and laicization is pending. He lives in Dallas.

• John R. Feiten, ordained in 1948, served at parishes in Rochester, Winona, Kellogg, Theilman, Hokah, LaMoille, Wabasha and Hayfield.

He retired from active ministry in June 2000 and died in July 2001 at 77 years old.

• Richard H. Hatch, ordained in 1954, served at parishes in Fairmont, Pipestone, St. James and Winona.

He voluntarily ceased his ministerial duties and permanently left the diocese in the late 1960s. He died in 2005 at 77 years old.

• Michael J. Kuisle, ordained in 1940, served in parishes in Winona, Rochester, Rushford, Claremont, West Concord, Hokah, La Crescent and Stewartville.

He voluntarily resigned in September 1971 and died in December 1971 at 55 years old.

• James W. Lennon, ordained in 1965, served in Winona, Rochester, Minneiska, Elba, Heron Lake, St. James and Plainview. He voluntarily left active ministry in June 1984.

He died in August 2000 at 60 years old.

• Robert H. Taylor, ordained in 1956, served in Rochester, Winona, Dakota, LaMoille, Madelia, Lake Crystal and Truman, among others.

He was suspended from ministry in February 1995 and died in May 2012 at 81 years old.

• Leo Charles Koppala, ordained in 1994, was placed on administrative leave in June pending charges in Faribault County District Court.

He started with the Diocese of Winona in 2008 and has served in Rochester and at Ss. Peter and Paul in Blue Earth and at St. Mary in Winnebago.

In a statement released with the list, Winona Bishop John Quinn said the diocese was committed to “committed to the protection of young people … and encourages anyone who has been sexually abused to immediately report the abuse to law enforcement or the proper authorities.”

The list is the latest such disclosure as Catholic bishops in Minnesota face ongoing legal pressure after years of keeping the names secret. Attorneys for abuse victims had sought the public disclosure of the list, saying it was in the interest of public safety. Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis named 34 priests accused of abuse under the same judicial order.

The information includes the priests’ ages and, when known, their years of ordination, the parishes where they served, the date they were removed from ministry, their statuses, and the cities where they live.

A St. Paul law firm that represents church abuse victims got a copy of Winona’s list in 2009, but it was barred by the court from releasing it publicly.

Mike Finnegan, an attorney at the firm, said only one priest on the list had previously been widely known to have faced abuse allegations. That priest had been the subject of a civil lawsuit based on service under both the Winona and St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese. He was suspended from ministry in 1984, and removed from the priesthood in 2009.

“The people who have been suffering in secrecy, often blaming themselves, this gives them permission to come forward and to get help,” Finnegan said.

He said attorneys would continue to seek the release of further information about the priests on the lists, particularly files kept by church leaders regarding when they knew of allegations and how they handled them.

A handful of new victims have already come forward since the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese released its list earlier this month. Archbishop John Nienstedt has said that from now on, substantiated claims of abuse will be disclosed on the archdiocese website.

Shannon Hanzel, a retired Winona high school teacher who has worked with activists to pressure local church leaders to open up about abuse claims, urged her fellow Catholics on Monday to join in efforts to change the church from within. She reached out in particular to those who attended churches that appeared on the list.

“It’s going to be very difficult, it’s going to be very painful for lifelong Catholics who have had such love for the church and such respect for the clergy,” Hanzel said. “It’s hard to leave that comfort zone, but something has to be done.”








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