Suit Names Former Prep School Teacher

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times
May 9, 2016

A former student at St. John's Prep has sued the school, St. John's Abbey, the Order of St. Benedict and the Rev. Michael Bik, accusing Bik of sexually abusing him in 1998.

The lawsuit filed Monday alleges negligence in Prep School leaders allowing Bik to teach at the school 28 years after Bik abused two boys while he was a lay teacher at an Anoka school.

The lawsuit accuses Bik of abusing the boy, who was 15 or 16 in 1998, during preparations for the boy's confirmation. The boy asked another abbey monk if what Bik was doing was necessary to prepare for his confirmation, and that monk told him no.

"Michael Bik promised to confirm him if he had sex with him," said Jeffrey Anderson, the attorney suing the abbey, the Prep School and Bik.

"Michael Bik denies the allegations ... and will defend against them vigorously," the abbey said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

It accused Anderson of building a case against Bik using out-of-context snippets of one monk’s candid, subjective thoughts. Those thoughts are attributed to Brother Robin Pierzina, who wrote memos and work assessments of Bik before Bik was accepted into St. John's Abbey to study for the priesthood.

In 1988, a "character evaluation" stated that Bik "sometimes finds it difficult to separate himself from the lives of the (St. John's Prep School students), but is aware of that as an issue in his life and an issue of continuous discussion between us."

Later that same year, a memo from Pierzina stated that Bik moves to the Prep School when he "can't find the companionship he wants )(among his peers)."

"I don't like all the time (Bik) spends with the preps but 'you go shopping where the stores are,' " Pierzina wrote.

In September of 1988, Pierzina wrote in another memo that Bik spent more time with Prep students than addressing his professional responsibilities. "... he seems to put all his energy and time into coddling, smothering time, with the kids," Pierzina wrote.

A year later, Pierzina wrote in a work assessment of Bik that, "where two or three preps are gathered, there is Michael Bik in their midst," according to the lawsuit.

In 1990, St. John's accepted Bik to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1993 and served one year at St. Joseph's Parish before being assigned to the Prep School.

The abbey's statement said that documents, taken in the proper context, dispel the suggestion that there were any red flags about Bik before he was ordained.

".. there was no concern whatsoever regarding any sexual impropriety," the statement said.

St. John's received a complaint of sexual abuse in 1998 from a former student of Bik's at St. Stephen's in Anoka. Bik admitted to the abuse, and volunteered that he had sexually abused another boy at St. Stephen's in the 1970s. St. John's moved Bik to the monastery, with an internal memo from then-Abbot Timothy Kelly saying it was "for reasons of his health."

At the time that Kelly was moving Bik away from the Prep School, Bik was abusing the boy during confirmation prep, Anderson said. The abbey didn't tell parents, didn't tell the police and didn't make Bik's name public, Anderson said.

"They chose to keep it quiet, to move Bik to the monastery," he said.

St. John's Abbey spokesman Brother Aelred Senna issued a statement Monday morning to students, staff and faculty at St. John's in advance of the lawsuit press conference.

It said, in part, that no sexual abuse of a minor by a monk at St. John's had occurred "in more than a quarter century."

"It's a lie," Anderson said.

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