In Twin Cities archdiocese, 103 priests accused of sex misconduct

By Emily Gurnon
Pioneer Press
August 04, 2014

Former priest Thomas Adamson is pictured at a May 16, 2014, deposition about his sexual abuse of children.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, photographed in 2010.

Jeff Anderson, St. Paul attorney

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

Andre Bennett

Michael Bik

Names of New Ulm priests accused of sexual misconduct made public

Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North on Monday denied a motion by the Diocese of Winona to move the Doe 1 priest sexual abuse trial to another district, saying jurors in Ramsey County would be fair to the defendants.

Attorneys for the diocese had argued that the level of publicity about the case has tainted the views of prospective jurors.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis did not join in the change-of-venue motion.


Also Monday, attorney Michael Finnegan of Jeff Anderson and Associates noted in court that there are now more than 100 priests the archdiocese has named as the subject of allegations. At least 55 of those names remain sealed.

Archdiocese attorney Thomas Wieser included a chart in a June 18 memorandum to the court that listed the number of files it submitted under seal from March 31 through May 23. The number of files totals 103.

The archdiocese has publicly disclosed the names of 48 accused priests since December.

The church argues the rest should remain secret because there have been false and fabricated allegations that would sully the names of respectable priests.

Doe 1 is the pseudonym of a man who sued former priest Thomas Adamson, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona for abuse he says he suffered by Adamson in the 1970s at St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park. The lawsuit alleges that the archdiocese and diocese created a "public nuisance" by allowing offending priests to remain active and concealing information about their misconduct from the public.

Anderson said after the hearing that the secret names should see the light of day.

His office has learned through reviewing the sealed files that they are "disturbing in their depth and in their sordid detail," Anderson said.

The archdiocese knew of their offenses and yet dismissed the claims as baseless, he said.

"More names have to come out, they have to come out soon, and we're working every day to get them out," Anderson said.

He pointed to Archbishop John Nienstedt's statements last week to the media that he was committed to a new level of transparency with regard to priest misconduct.

But "his actions speak louder than words," Anderson said.

Wieser said in response that when the archdiocese receives an allegation of sexual abuse by a priest, "we immediately call police." It continues to "review allegations and are publicly releasing information, as we have over the past eight months.

In the civil case, "the judge has acknowledged the concern of the archdiocese of publicly disclosing information about accusations against priests that the archdiocese has concluded are baseless by allowing the archdiocese to provide all the names and files under seal," Wieser said.

He said that Schumacher has proposed a process to determine whether the information should become public. "These issues should be considered on a case-by-case basis, rather than as a group," Wieser said.

Schumacher's process was another topic of debate at Monday's hearing.

Schumacher has said that the burden is on the plaintiffs to show "good cause" why the names should be released and that only those priests whose actions have risen to the level of a crime should be named publicly.

Finnegan argued that, under the proposed standard, many priests who are a danger to children will remain protected.

"So we're asking for a slight relaxation of the standard," Finnegan said. He asked Van de North to modify Schumacher's criteria. The archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona have argued that Finnegan made the request too late.

Van de North took the matter under advisement.

The Doe 1 trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 22.





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