Appeals court rejects archdiocese bid to stop Nienstedt deposition

By Emily Gurnon
Pioneer Press
March 5, 2014

Here are some of the photos of those priests and monks listed as suspected of sexually abusing children. Above: Thomas Adamson (Courtesy of Jeff Anderson)

Andre Bennett (Courtesy photo)

Michael Bik (Courtesy photo)

Robert Blumeyer (Courtesy photo)

[Order - Granting or Denying Mandamus Prohibition ] [Timeline of efforts to have Winona's list released ]

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has rejected an attempt by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to prevent the depositions of Archbishop John Nienstedt and a former top deputy.

The court refused to consider an appeal by the archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona to halt discovery in the case of John Doe 1, a man who alleged sexual abuse by former priest Thomas Adamson, according to an order filed Wednesday by Chief Judge Edward Cleary.

The court also dismissed related appeals filed by the archdiocese and diocese.

Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North had ruled in the case that the church agencies must turn over names of priests accused of sexual abuse of minors since 2004. Van de North also ordered that the depositions of Nienstedt and former Vicar General Kevin McDonough should go forward.

But church officials balked at those orders, saying among other things that Van de North may have exceeded his authority.

The archdiocese and diocese asked the Court of Appeals on Feb. 18 to undo Van de North's orders on the depositions and the release of more priests' names.

Plaintiff's attorney Jeff Anderson said they were pleased with Wednesday's rulings.

"Our reading of this (order) and the language in it is that they have ruled that we are able to move forward with discovery ... that the trial court was right," Anderson said.

The deposition of Nienstedt is scheduled for April 2; that of McDonough is set for April 16, Anderson said. The location has not yet been determined.

The archdiocese last month gave the court, under seal, a list of priests accused of sexually abusing minors since 2004. The plaintiff's attorneys can petition for those names to be made public for "good cause" -- and Anderson has said this is his goal.

Church officials have argued that some of those priests might be innocent.

"We appreciate that the Court of Appeals considered our appeal and issued a timely opinion today.

We look forward to continuing to work with the courts to resolve the litigation," Jim Accurso, archdiocese spokesman, said Wednesday.

Van de North also ordered the release of names of priests "credibly accused" of child sexual abuse known to them before 2004; those were disclosed publicly in December.

Thomas Adamson is a former priest who has been sued more than a dozen times for alleged sexual abuse of children. Doe 1 is a Twin Cities man who sued in May, saying Adamson molested him in 1976 or 1977 when the priest served at St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park. Doe 1 also alleged the archdiocese and diocese failed to respond, moving Adamson from parish to parish amid the allegations.

Anderson also wants to take the deposition of the Rev. John Brown, a 93-year-old priest living in Maplewood. Brown has been accused of sexual abuse by a different plaintiff.



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