Ex-hastings Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Raping Altar Boy
By Emily Gurnon
September 5, 2014
|Francis Frederick Hoefgen (Courtesy of the Dakota County sheriff's office)|
A Dakota County judge entered not-guilty pleas for a former Hastings priest charged with repeatedly raping and molesting an altar boy from about 1989 to 1991.
Francis Hoefgen, 64, of Columbia Heights appeared with his attorney in court Friday and waived his right to a speedy trial.
Judge Thomas Pugh found that probable cause exists to proceed to trial. The parties agreed to set a pre-trial date of May 4 and a trial date of May 18. The trial will take place in Dakota County District Court in Hastings.
An adult went to the Hastings Police Department in November 2013 and said he had been sexually abused by Hoefgen when he served at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. The man was a 9- or 10-year-old altar boy when the alleged abuse began, he told police.
Hoefgen touched his genitals and penetrated him orally and anally, according to a criminal complaint in the case.
Prosecutors charged Hoefgen in May with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The complainant also has filed a civil lawsuit in Dakota County against Hoefgen, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Order of St. Benedict, also known as St. John's Abbey. Hoefgen was an ordained monk who worked in the archdiocese. The plaintiff is identified as Doe 27 in the suit.
Last week, prosecutor Kathryn Keena filed a notice with the court of her intent to offer evidence of prior offenses by Hoefgen.
The notice alleged that Hoefgen engaged in oral penetration twice with a 17-year-old boy who had been living with him at the church rectory of St.
Boniface Catholic Church in Cold Spring, in Stearns County, after the boy was released from a hospital. The abuse took place in June 1983, according to the notice.
In a separate incident, in the late 1970s, Hoefgen "engaged in sexual contact" with another 17-year-old boy at the parish house of St. Boniface in Cold Spring, when he was associate pastor, the notice said. At the time, the boy was in counseling sessions with Hoefgen after a suicide attempt, according to the notice.
Hoefgen professed his monastic vows in 1973 and served as a monk at St. John's Abbey. In 1979, he became a priest and was assigned to St. Boniface in Cold Spring, where he remained until 1984. He entered treatment at the St. Luke Institute in Maryland that year after a boy accused him of sexual abuse.
The next year, 1985, the archdiocese placed him at St. Boniface in Hastings, which merged with Guardian Angels in Hastings to form St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1987. He stayed there until 1992, when the victim in the 1983 incidents filed suit.
He was defrocked in December 2011, according to the archdiocese.
Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522. Follow her at twitter.com/emilygurnon.