New Ulm Diocese Wants List Kept Secret
By Dan Nienaber
The Mankato Free Press
January 6, 2014
NEW ULM — An attorney leading a statewide effort to have lists of priests credibly accused of molesting children released was asking why the Diocese of New Ulm is fighting to keep its list secret after a court hearing Monday.
The diocese is the only one in the state that hasn't released a list that was provided to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City in 2003 or 2004. The lists were created for a study, started by Catholic bishops, to determine the scope of child sexual abuse by priests in the United States.
Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul attorney, and his law firm have been filing lawsuits in several Minnesota district courts, including in Brown County, on behalf of victims claiming they were sexually abused by priests. Many of those lawsuits included requests to have the lists released to the public.
Similar lists created by dioceses in Minneapolis and St. Paul, St. Cloud, Winona, Duluth and Crookston were released by court order or voluntarily after the motions were filed, Anderson said. During Monday's hearing, Thomas Wieser, an attorney for the Diocese of New Ulm, argued to keep the New Ulm list secret.
Wieser did disclose during the hearing that the list of 12 priests credibly accused of molesting children contains the names of six priests who are still alive. The average age of those priests is 70, he said.
He argued that Anderson's nuisance complaints that led to the release of other lists doesn't fit the New Ulm case because there has been no report of sexual abuse by any priest in the New Ulm Diocese that took place after 2004. So the six living priests on the list would have their reputations damaged for no reason, Wieser said.
The New Ulm cases addressed Monday by Brown County District Court Judge Robert Docherty were filed against the diocese alleging officials there allowed David Roney to work as a priest after receiving reports he had molested children. The cases involve two women and a third victim who said they were sexually assaulted by Roney while they were children attending St. Mary's Catholic Church in Willmar during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Roney was 82 when he died in 2003, so he would have been in his late 40s or early 50s at the time.
Other cases filed in New Ulm against other priests include allegations against Francis Markey, who wasn't a member of the diocese but served at its churches. Two lawsuits have been filed against Markey, who is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in Henderson and an 8-year-old boy in Granite Falls in 1982.
Markey died in Ireland in 2012 while awaiting trial for sexually assaulting a boy there. He had been sent to the United States for treatment for pedophilia in 1981 after numerous complaints that he had sexually assaulted boys attending churches in Ireland. He filled in at the church in Granite Falls while attending training in Willmar to become a substance abuse counselor, a Diocese of New Ulm news release said. Officials at the diocese also said it was possible he filled in at the Henderson church, but there are no records of that.
Another attorney, Patrick Noaker of Minnetonka, also has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man who claims he was molested by William Marks while Marks was working as a priest in Hector between 1957 and 1960. Marks died in 2003.
Wieser also asked the judge to dismiss Anderson's motion to have the list released because it wasn't filed within the time required by law and it only makes general allegations.
Motions filed by two priests on the Diocese of New Ulm list, one retired and one still working in the diocese, say their names should remain confidential because they were falsely accused. Both of the priests said their names are on the list because the diocese made a confidential cash payment to a person who accused them of sexually assaulting him or her in a church basement in 1971. (See related story.)
Anderson argued that the victims he is representing need to know the names of those priests and other priests on the New Ulm list because they could be neighbors, day care providers, teachers or church leaders. Not knowing the names is causing suffering through, among other things, anxiety and depression, he said.
After the hearing, Anderson said he doesn't understand why the New Ulm list isn't being released when all of the other lists have been made public.
"Why are they still fighting this?" he said. "It begs the question: What do they have to hide?"