Another Priest from St. John's Abbey Is Named in Suit Alleging Sexual Abuse

By Martha Sawyer Allen
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
October 22, 1992

Another priest at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., has been accused of sexually abusing a young man who was a student in the prep school in the 1980s.

This is the fifth suit in two years against a member of the Order of St. Benedict, the priests and brothers who run St. John's University, the prep school and the abbey.

The Rev. Allen Tarlton has been accused of molesting a young man at least three times in the fall of 1982 while the young man was a student at the prep school. Tarlton was the young man's counselor, English teacher and confidant, the suit contends.

The abuse happened in Tarlton's office while he was purporting to counsel the young man on emotional and spiritual matters, the complaint says.

The suit was filed in Stearns County District Court, as were the four other suits. All have been filed by Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul attorney who specializes in cases of alleged sexual misconduct by members of the clergy.

The suit contends that the young man's life has been damaged and it seeks a minimum of $ 50,000 in damages from the abbey.

Anderson said that one of the five suits is for molestation of a young person by a Benedictine brother at a rural parish near St. Cloud. The four other cases occurred on the St. John's campus and abbey. The five cases accuse four different men at the abbey.

The first case was filed about two years ago. One was just settled before going to trial.

"The first young man who came forward broke the silence, and there has been a steady progression of cases since then," Anderson said. "The problem there runs very deep and wide." He said the institution has failed to acknowledge the problem or to do anything about it.

The Rev. Daniel Durken, spokesman for the abbey, said that Tarlton has been on medical leave and has not been teaching this fall. He said the abbey instituted a sexual abuse policy in 1989 and revised it this summer. All four of the men have been removed from teaching positions, Durken said.

"Our policy has guidelines for intervening with the monk, investigating the allegations and seeking outside help and in trying to respond in a pastoral way to the victim," Durken said.

He said he could not comment on the particulars of the latest suit, He did say that one of the five cases has been settled, but he could not reveal the settlement.

The other monks who have been accused are the Revs. Dunston Morse, John Kelly and Brennan Maiers.


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