Judge: Diocese of Winona case is headed to court

Winona Daily News
September 3, 2014

A Ramsey County District Court judge ruled Wednesday that the case against the Diocese of Winona and Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis will head to court later this fall.

Judge John Van de North denied the request for dismissal of the public nuisance part of the case, finding that the diocese and archdiocese's actions to allow priests accused of abuse to remain in service, as well as the decisions to withhold information about priests suspected of abuse, constituted a public nuisance.

"The Court need look no further than Fathers Adamson and Curtis Wehmeyer as unfortunate examples of the horrendous consequences that can flow from intentional and misguided efforts to protect pedophile priests at the expense of minors," Van de North wrote in his ruling, referring to former diocese and archdiocese priests, respectively, accused of abuse.

Van de North ruled in July against a similar motion for dismissal. In that maneuver, lawyers from the archdiocese and diocese agreed that former priest Thomas Adamson abused the plaintiff at the center of the lawsuit, but argued that there weren't sufficient legal grounds to present to a jury. The judge said he'll let the man, identified only as Doe 1, to proceed with his negligence claims.

“The courage of this survivor and decision of Judge Van de North allows us to continue our efforts to protect children in the future," said lead attorney Jeff Anderson in a statement.

The case is scheduled to go to trial at some point this fall. The trial was originally scheduled to begin later this month, but has been delayed. Doe 1 is seeking unspecified financial damages on his negligence claims and the disclosure of more documents on the public nuisance claim.

Adamson, who admitted in his own deposition for the Doe 1 case that he abused around a dozen teens from the 1960s to the mid-1980s, was removed from active ministry in 1985 and defrocked in 2009. He was never criminally charged but has been the subject of previous lawsuits by other victims.



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