Archdiocese trial will stay in Ramsey County

By Chao Xiong
Star Tribune
September 10, 2014

The trial involving a priest, the Winona Diocese and St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese is to start Nov. 3.

A high-profile lawsuit alleging clergy sexual abuse of minors and a coverup by the Catholic Church will be tried in Ramsey County, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled.

The appeals court rejected the Diocese of Winona’s request for a change of venue in the case of Doe 1 vs. Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Diocese of Winona and Thomas Adamson.

“We were definitely glad to get the news that this trial will move forward,” Mike Finnegan, an attorney for Doe 1, said Wednesday.

The trial is scheduled to start Nov. 3.

The diocese filed a motion in Ramsey County District Court in July to move the trial to Olmsted County, St. Louis County or Clay County. In doing so, the diocese said that “intense prejudicial” pretrial publicity and the “media frenzy” surrounding the case would make it impossible to have a fair trial in Ramsey County.

Ramsey County District Judge John Van de North had ruled Aug. 4 that the trial should stay in Ramsey County.

The suit, filed last year, alleges that former priest Thomas Adamson sexually abused Doe 1 in the 1970s.

Finnegan and attorney Jeff Anderson also announced Wednesday that they were suing the Diocese of New Ulm in Brown County on behalf of two former altar boys who say they were sexually abused by the Rev. Michael Skoblik.

The attorneys also called for the Diocese of New Ulm and Bishop John M. LeVoir to release the names of 12 priests accused of child sexual assault.

“The Diocese of New Ulm and the Bishop LeVoir stand alone as the only diocese that has not released the names of credibly accused priests,” Finnegan said.

The two developments came on the heels of admissions by Ramsey County Attorney John Choi that the statute of limitations would likely prevent his office from filing criminal charges in 10 cases of alleged priest abuse in Ramsey County.

“We believe that there have been crimes committed … so we’re going to encourage Mr. Choi to keep looking at it and keep working on it to find a way to [prosecute],” Finnegan said.

Choi has said that his office is investigating loopholes that could allow for charges, but that it would be a challenge.

Authorities continue to investigate church leaders’ response to allegations of abuse.


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