Marfori named in second lawsuit

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times
March 16, 2016

Attorney Jeffrey Anderson holds pictures of the former Rev. Anthony Marfori at a news conference Wednesday announcing a second lawsuit against Marfori, who used to teach at Cathedral High School.
Photo by Kimm Anderson

Attorneys representing the Diocese of St. Cloud are asking a Stearns County judge to dismiss parts of a lawsuit filed against the diocese, Cathedral High School and a priest who is accused of sexually abusing a Cathedral student in the 1970s.

The diocese is asking Stearns County District Court Judge John Scherer to dismiss a “public nuisance” claim that accuses the diocese of concealing information about priests who were accused of sexually abusing children.

That claim was made in the lawsuit accusing the former Rev. Anthony “Tony” Marfori of abusing a Cathedral student. A second lawsuit was filed Wednesday by another former Cathedral student who says that Marfori also abused him in the late 1970s.

Successful public nuisance claims in other lawsuits have led to the release of numerous priest files and the disclosure to the public of large portions of those files. In court Wednesday, one of the attorneys representing the man suing said that the nuisance continues today.

The diocese hasn’t added Marfori’s name to its list of credibly accused priests, and Bishop Donald Kettler recently allowed Marfori to leave St. Cloud to return to his native Philippines, said Josh Peck, an attorney who represents the man accusing Marfori of sexual abuse.

Not only should Scherer not dismiss the public nuisance claim, he should allow access to the priest files to determine if there are other priests with allegations against them whose names haven’t been made public, Peck said.

“How many more Tony Marforis are out there?” Peck said.

Kettler has made public the names of 37 priests with some connection to the diocese who have credible allegations against them of sexually abusing children, said Thomas Wieser, one of the attorneys representing the diocese.

Kettler held a series of listening sessions last month in areas where Marfori served, according to a statement from the diocese. The sessions were designed to assure parishioners of Kettler’s support and assistance, to offer a process whereby sexual misconduct issues and concerns could be voiced and discussed and to allow other potential victims the opportunity to come forward and receive assistance and healing, according to the diocese.

Members of the Diocesan Response Team were present at the listening sessions to offer such assistance.

The diocese also asked Scherer to dismiss claims of private nuisance and general negligence. Scherer took the matter under advisement and has 90 days to issue a decision.

Marfori was a religion teacher at Cathedral at the time the two former students claim the abuse occurred. When the lawsuit was filed, Marfori was a “sacramental minister” at St. Andrew Parish in Elk River.

Kettler removed Marfori’s priestly faculties after the lawsuit was filed and said that he hadn’t assigned Marfori to the Elk River parish. Marfori was working there in an agreement between Marfori and the parish, Kettler said.

The diocese said that the first lawsuit, filed in October, was the first time it had heard of sexual abuse allegations against Marfori.

Marfori was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral in 1978 and was assigned to Cathedral High School from 1978-80, when the abuse is alleged to have occurred, according to Anderson. Marfori went on to serve in parishes in Sauk Centre, Roscoe, Lake Henry, Zimmerman, Kimball and in the Foley area.

A public nuisance claim in a Ramsey County lawsuit led to the release of numerous priest files where attorneys for clergy sex abuse survivors compiled thousands of pages of documents that were sent to law enforcement. That led to criminal charges being filed against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said Jeffrey Anderson, the attorney suing the Diocese of St. Cloud.



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