Diocese of Winona's request to move trial denied

Winona Daily News
September 10, 2014

The Diocese of Winona’s request to move the civil suit over a former priest accused of abuse has been denied.

The diocese had argued that the lawsuit couldn’t be fairly tried in Ramsey County District Court, and had requested that it be moved. A three-judge state court of appeals panel disagreed in a ruling released Wednesday, concluding that the district court’s earlier dismissal of the change of venue claim was justified.

The case is scheduled to go to trial Nov 3. The plaintiff, a Twin Cities man identified only as John Doe 1, is seeking unspecified financial damages on negligence claims and the disclosure of more documents on a public nuisance claim. He has claimed to have been sexually abused by Thomas Adamson, a former Winona diocese and Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis priest, nearly 40 years ago.

That public nuisance claim was also disputed by the diocese, which sought to dismiss it. Earlier this month, the Ramsey County judge presiding over the case, John Van de North, declined to dismiss the suit, clearing the way for it to reach trial. It will be the first clerical sexual abuse case nationwide to use the public nuisance theory at trial, attorneys for the plaintiff have said. The public nuisance claim has already led to the unprecedented disclosure of tens of thousands of church documents and the names of dozens of accused priests.

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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