Man Testifies That As Altar Boy, Priest Raped Him

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times
May 21, 2015

Fran Hoefgen

A former altar boy at a Hastings church testified Thursday that Fran Hoefgen raped him numerous times in a room behind the altar at a Hastings church where Hoefgen was a priest in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

That former altar boy is now 36, lives in Red Wing with his wife and three children, and testified that he still harbors anger toward Hoefgen, a former St. John's Abbey monk who was laicized from the priesthood in 2011.

Hoefgen, 64, faces two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Dakota County.

The man testified Thursday that Hoefgen was at first a nice man who listened to him and helped him with problems that arose in his life. He liked and trusted Hoefgen, he told jurors.

Then he told Hoefgen that he had been touched inappropriately by a family member when he was a young child.

"He had me show him. He grabbed my hand one day and put it on his penis and he grabbed mine," the man said during his testimony.

The Times is not naming the man because he is alleging that he's a victim of sexual abuse.

The touching continued and happened after funeral services and school Masses, he told jurors. It progressed to more aggressive forms of contact, he testified, all of which happened in a room behind the altar at the old St. Boniface Church.

The abuse happened when the boy was in fourth through sixth grades and ended when Hoefgen left the parish in 1992.

The man didn't tell anyone about the abuse until 2013, he testified. He told his now-wife and police, and only recently told his parents, he said.

He said that Hoefgen threatened him at the time of the abuse that he would tell his family what was happening and that the boy would have to go live with his mother, with whom he didn't want to live.

"Why did you come forward in 2013," Assistant Dakota County Attorney Paul Beaumaster asked him.

"I couldn't take it anymore," he said. "I was trying to cover up how I felt with alcohol, drugs. I wanted something done."

He admitted that he still has "a lot of anger" toward Hoefgen and that he wanted Hoefgen "to pay. I want him to go to prison."

The man has been through treatment and has struggled with alcohol and drugs, he said. He also filed a civil lawsuit against Hoefgen just after reporting the abuse to police, he said.

Hoefgen's attorney, Michael Colich, questioned him about that lawsuit and whether it was at the direction of the civil attorneys that he reported the alleged abuse to police. The man testified that he never mentioned the abuse he suffered at the hands of a family member when he was 6 or 7 to the civil attorneys when he was considering a lawsuit.

And he was asked why he didn't report that abuse by Hoefgen sooner than 24 years after it happened.

"I finally became a decent man, someone that wasn't making (my family) worry constantly" he testified. "I made myself the black sheep for years, and I didn't want to do that again."

Colich later in the afternoon hammered away at the police investigation of the allegations that man made. He questioned one officer about whether she interviewed any of the students who went to school with the altar boy, any of the administrators at the school, any of the other priests who worked with Hoefgen at the parish and whether she sought to track down details about the funerals, masses and other events that the former altar boy said happened before the abuse.

The officer repeatedly answered no or that she didn't know the answers.

"You just accepted whatever (the altar boy) told you and went with it, correct? Colich asked.

"Yes," said Hastings Police Department Sgt. Amber Wiech.

Also testifying Thursday was a licensed psychologist who told jurors about the dynamics of delayed reports of childhood sex abuse.

Abbot John Klassen also testified briefly. His testimony, which was less than 10 minutes, was limited to the fact that Hoefgen was assigned to the Hastings parish from 1989-1992.








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