Diocese of Winona Releases Names of Priests Accused of Child Abuse
By Jean Hopfensperger
The Star Tribune
December 16, 2013
The Diocese of Winona disclosed the names Monday of 14 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with children, a list that it compiled a decade ago.
They include a high school principal, parish priests, a hospital chaplain and seminary instructors. Their alleged abuse occurred from the 1960s through the 1980s. Nine are dead.
Already victims’ advocates are calling for more details of the accusations against them. Most of the priests had never been publicly revealed. Yet they served a large Minnesota diocese, with an estimated 134,000 Catholics and 110 parishes spread across southern Minnesota, including the cities of Rochester, Albert Lea, Mankato and Winona.
“Over the past few decades, a number of clergy members in the Diocese of Winona sadly have been accused of violating the sacred trust placed in them by children, youth and their families and were accused of detestable crimes of sexual abuse,” said a statement by Winona Bishop John Quinn. “For this I am truly sorry.” The brief statement also described how the list was compiled and encouraged victims of abuse to come forward.
A Ramsey County District Court judge ordered the list unsealed earlier this month as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of a man who said he was abused by former priest Thomas Adamson, who had been accused of molesting a number of boys in the Winona diocese before being transferred to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The third such “secret list” made public in two weeks followed similar disclosures by the archdiocese and St. John’s Abbey of Collegeville.
“This is different from the lists of the archdiocese and St. John’s Abbey, because many of those priests were known,” said Patrick Wall, victim advocate at Anderson & Associates, a St. Paul-based law firm whose lawsuit prompted the archdiocese and Winona’s actions.
“You have the biggest number of new disclosures in Winona,” he said. “It’s going to be a complete shock to people.”
The list includes the Rev. Joseph Cashman, a former principal at Lourdes High School in Rochester, where three of the priests had worked in the 1960s, and the late Monsignor Richard Feiten, who served at St. Pius X Church in Rochester, which also hosted three of the priests in the 1980s.
50 years of records
All but one of the names released Monday were on the list prepared by the diocese in 2002 for the U.S. Conference of Bishops. Dioceses were asked to review 50 years of records and submit data for the study, which was released in 2004.
Quinn, in his statement, claimed that the study “encouraged overreporting” because it didn’t direct dioceses to weigh the credibility of accusations.
Any priests who have been credibly accused of child abuse since then are supposed to be added to the list. Ramsey County Judge John Van de North ordered newer names to be made public by Jan. 6.
Only one of the names on the Winona list is well known in the Twin Cities: Adamson, 80, a former priest now living in Rochester who was also on the archdiocese’s list of accused priests released Dec. 5. He was the subject of at least 10 lawsuits in the 1980s related to sexual abuse of boys.
Other priests named include: Sylvester Brown, Joseph Cashman, Louis Cook, William Curtis, Richard Hatch, Ferdinand Kaiser, Jack Krough, Michael Kuisle, James Lennon, Leland Smith, Robert Taylor and Leo Koppala.
Only five are still alive: Adamson, Cashman, Krough, Smith and Koppala. The Star Tribune was not able to reach them for comment.
Koppala, who had been a priest serving in a Blue Earth parish, is the most recent name added. Koppala has been charged in Faribault County District Court with second-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly molesting a young girl at her grandmother’s house in Blue Earth in June.
For the victims of the abuse, the disclosure prompted mixed emotions.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” said Jim Keenan, who had sued Adamson for sexually abusing him in the early 1980s at Church of the Risen Savior in Burnsville. “I’m really happy that the list is out, but there is always that dark cloud that they [church leaders] are being forced to do it.”
“As a victim, I just want them to step straight up and say, ‘You know what? We blew it.’ ”
Victims’ advocates also pressed for more information on how the diocese responded to the allegations against priests on the list.
“The diocese clearly considers the allegations against Cashman, Krough and Smith to be substantiated,” because their removal from ministry is pending, said Terry McKiernan, executive director of Bishops Accountability, a Massachusetts-based group that tracks clergy abuse.
“Curtis and Taylor were suspended in the 1990s,” he added. Hatch, Kaiser, Kuisle and Lennon resigned or left voluntarily. “Bishop Quinn must account for their departures.”
The diocese’s action comes as Minnesota Catholics confront growing allegations of clergy sexual misconduct that had gone unreported to the public and unpunished by the church for over three decades.
The lawsuit that pried open the files in the archdiocese and Winona diocese was filed by a man — identified as Doe 1 — who alleges that Adamson sexually molested him as a teenage altar boy in the mid-1970s while working at St. Thomas Aquinas parish in St. Paul Park.
Adamson had “unlimited access” to children, even though the archdiocese and the diocese of Winona were aware that Adamson had “sexually molested dozens of boys, admitted to molesting boys, that he committed offenses at almost every parish he served, and that Adamson was a danger to them,” the suit said.
Quinn said the diocese “has taken extraordinary measures” to ensure the safety of children at its schools, parishes and programs.
But Barbara Dorris, an outreach director for the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, said Quinn should turn over all documentation on each priest and pay personal visits to each parish where they worked.
Quinn said he hoped the release of the list would bring healing.
“It is a difficult time for the Church in the Diocese of Winona,” Quinn said in a statement. “It is also a time of hope which presents an opportunity to heal and continue moving forward.”