Suit Alleges Priest's Abuse of Boy in Cold Spring

By Martha Sawyer Allen
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
October 30, 1992

A lawsuit alleging sexual abuse has been filed against another Roman Catholic priest. The Rev. Francis Hoefgen, assistant pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Hastings, has been accused of molesting a young man while he was a pastor in Cold Spring, Minn.

The man, who was 16 at the time of the alleged incidents, is not identified by name. His suit accuses Hoefgen of molesting him in 1982, while Hoefgen was pastor at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Cold Spring.

The suit said that the abuse occurred while the boy, who couldn't live with his family at the time, lived with Hoefgen for a while. He and Hoefgen met while the boy was being treated for attempted suicide.

The suit, filed by St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, a specialist in clergy sexual abuse, contends that on at least four occasions Hoefgen fondled and had oral sex with the boy at the parish center at the church.

Also named in the suit is the Abbey of St. John, Collegeville, Minn., because Hoefgen is a Benedictine priest, and the Diocese of St. Cloud.

The suit contends that because of the abuse the young man has suffered considerable emotional damage, including shame, guilt, self-blame, repression and depression.

It asks for the typical compensatory damages of at least $ 50,000.

Jerry Klein, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said that Hoefgen has been removed from the staff of the Hastings church. He has returned to Collegeville, according to information from St. John's Abbey.

Klein also said, "Prior to yesterday we were unaware of any allegations against him."

St. John's Abbey released a statement saying that when the abbot learned of the abuse in 1984, he sent Hoefgen to a treatment center in Maryland for six months. "After receiving a positive recommendation from the psychological staff at St. Luke's, Father Hoefgen returned to St. John's Abbey in October 1984," the statement said. He was assigned to Hastings in 1985.

However, attorney Anderson said that the young man didn't tell anyone of the abuse until this summer.

"If they had known about the abuse in 1984 why didn't they come forward and help the victim?" he said.


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