Elk River Priest on Leave Amid Sex Abuse Claim from 1970s
By Madeleine Baran
Minnesota Public Radio
October 13, 2015
A priest in Elk River is on leave of absence from ministry after a lawsuit was filed Tuesday accusing him of sexually abusing a teenage boy nearly four decades ago.
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The Rev. Antonio Marfori of Elk River's Church of St. Andrew said he learned of the lawsuit Monday. He said there is "no truth" to the allegation in the lawsuit. "I almost fainted yesterday when they gave me the summons," Marfori, 63, said.
In a statement, the St. Cloud diocese said Marfori has been removed from priestly duties while the allegation is investigated, adding that "there has been no report of sexual misconduct prior to receiving the present complaint."
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Stearns County, a man identified as Doe 75 said Marfori "engaged in unpermitted sexual contact" with him in about 1978 when he was about 15 years old.
The man is suing Marfori, the Diocese of St. Cloud and Cathedral High School, where Marfori had been a part-time instructor in the late 1970s. The suit alleges the high school and the diocese were negligent in allegedly failing to protect the boy from Marfori.
Cathedral High School said there was no allegation of sexual misconduct by Marfori at the school before the lawsuit.
At a news conference Tuesday to announce the lawsuit, attorney Jeff Anderson said another man who says he was also abused by Marfori has contacted the law firm but has not decided whether to file a lawsuit.
During the interview with MPR News on Tuesday, when asked again if the allegations were false, Marfori said, "Well, that's what I will say for the meantime because I don't even remember those kids, one of the kids, because it's only one, it's not two."
He then said the lawsuit provided the wrong age of the alleged victim. "If I remember, that guy was probably a junior or senior, so he's not 15 years old."
Marfori declined further comment and said he plans to talk with an attorney to protect his rights.
"I believe in God's goodness," he said. "And so we'll leave it to God's hands."