Accused Minnesota priest never confronted by officials, he says

By Emily Gurnon
Pioneer Press
June 11, 2014

Here are some of the photos of those priests and monks listed as suspected of sexually abusing children.

Andre Bennett

The former priest and admitted pedophile named in a lawsuit that has disgorged thousands of internal church documents said in a deposition last month that no bishops or other officials had ever asked him how many children he had abused or who they were.

Thomas Paul Adamson, now 80 and never charged with a crime, said he began abusing children in about 1961, when he was a priest at St. Adrian Church in southwest Minnesota.

Adamson admitted in the May 16 deposition to sexually abusing one child there, a 14-year-old boy, though he was accused by others.

Attorney Jeffrey Anderson asked him to review a list of 37 other accusers and identify the ones he had abused. Adamson marked off nine other names with a highlighter.

He initially estimated there were "several" victims. Anderson asked if the number could be over 100, or over 50. Adamson said no.

"You're not certain of the number, are you?"

"No, I'm not," Adamson said.

Adamson is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by plaintiff Doe 1, who alleges that Adamson sexually abused him when he served at St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park.

The lawsuit also names the Diocese of Winona and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as defendants, alleging that church officials created a "public nuisance" by quietly moving Adamson from parish to parish despite the allegations against him.

He did not remember sexually abusing Doe 1 or attempting to sexually abuse him, Adamson said.

Anderson asked how the abuse started with the first child.

"I think he was very interested in me, interested in sex and that's -- just developed," Adamson said.

Following a number of accusations, Adamson was removed from actively practicing as a priest in 1984. He wasn't removed as a priest until 2009 -- and he resisted it, believing he should be allowed to remain in the ministry.

He said he had not been alone with a youth for more than 30 years.

Adamson was directed to look at a letter he received upon his return to Minnesota from Eau Claire, Wis.

The letter, dated Feb. 10, 2012, was from the Rev. Richard Colletti, vicar general of the Diocese of Winona.

"As you know, the Diocese of Winona has received numerous allegations over the past several decades that you committed acts of sexual abuse against minors in and without the diocese," Colletti wrote. "Many of these allegations are credible."

The diocese continues to defend itself against lawsuits involving Adamson, the vicar general wrote.

Given Adamson's history, officials "view you as a potential threat to the safety of the children in our schools and in our parishes."

Colletti said Adamson was banned from those locations.

The 2012 letter was the first time such restrictions had been placed on him, Adamson said.

Adamson also said he did not recall restrictions placed on him regarding children, even though his file contained a "special agreement" between him and Archbishop John Roach saying he was to have no contact with youth. Adamson signed that document in March 1983.

Adamson said he did not know if any report had been made to law enforcement by church officials in either the Diocese of Winona or the Twin Cities archdiocese.

Anderson asked Adamson if he had ever spent a day in jail.

"No," Adamson said.

"Don't you think you should have?"




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