Father Eckroth Is Laid To Rest, While New Documents Shed Disturbing Light

By Bill Hudson
CBS Minnesota
May 30, 2015

Photo by Jeff Anderson

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Suspicions over a Minnesota monk’s alleged molestation of children are following him to his grave.

Funeral services were held for Richard Eckroth on Friday at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville amid new revelations about his past.

A number of private documents related to the case were released Friday, which show that St. John’s Abbey officials knew of serious problems with Eckroth as early as 1993.

Father Eckroth was placed on a list of credibly-accused priests in 2002.

One document is the psychological and physical examination report that was done on Eckroth by St. Luke Institute in Maryland in 1993. It recommends that Eckroth have no unsupervised contact with minors.

St. John’s Abbey has been criticized for keeping the sexual allegations quiet from everyone, including authorities.

“They knew he was a danger and they’ve known for some time, but they made the conscious choices not to reveal the danger that was known to exist,” Attorney Jeff Anderson said.

Anderson is representing three of Eckroth’s alleged victims who are now suing the St. John’s Abbey.

Several adults now recall trips with Eckroth, along with other kids as young as 8 and 10, to a Bemidji cabin in the 1970s and 80s where the alleged assaults occurred.

One of the adults later wrote to Abbey officials that he felt “naked and scared” when the children were made to run into the lake following a group sauna. He also contends that Eckroth had boys and girls taking saunas together.

A caller asked Stearns County authorities in 2002 to look into Eckroth’s whereabouts in October of 1989, which is when Jacob Wetterling went missing.

Det. Pam Jensen wrote in May to request a list of names of all Abbey priests on restrictions. According to the memo, Eckroth was recovering from a hip replacement and was down in the Bahamas in October 1989.

Anderson is facing criticism for releasing the documents on the very same day that Eckroth was laid to rest.

“His passing was reported in an obituary, but it doesn’t really tell the story that needs to be known,” Anderson said.

Robert Stich, Eckroth’s attorney, said it is appropriate to show respect for the dead, especially on the day of his funeral.

Stich went on to say it is “easy to pick on a dead person who is no longer present to deny the allegations.”

“While he was alive, Eckroth steadfastly denied the allegations which Mr. Anderson is publicizing today,” Stich said.

Eckroth is said to have suffered from dementia in his final years.


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