Report: Documents Show Abbot Transferred Accused Priest to School

Associated Press State & Local Wire
May 16, 2002

The former abbot of St. John's Abbey knew it was a risk to transfer a priest accused of sexually abusing students to a teaching position at a Twin Cities school, internal abbey documents show.

Former students of the Rev. Dunstan Moorse say he sexually abused them when he was a teacher at St. John's Preparatory School in Collegeville. At least two former students have successfully sued the abbey over the allegations.

KSTP-TV reported Thursday that former Abbot Jerome Theisen, who died in 1995, indicated in a letter that he knew about allegations against Moorse before sending him to Benilde-St. Margaret High School in St. Louis Park in the late 1980s.

There have been no publicly-disclosed allegations that Moorse abused children at the high school. Moorse now resides in the Collegeville abbey, where his movements are restricted by the current abbot.

An abbey spokesman declined to comment to KSTP on the documents. The spokesman did not return a telephone call Thursday night from The Associated Press.

The letter in Theisen's files described a meeting between Moorse and Theisen in 1987. "We spoke briefly about Benilde. I said that I wanted him to teach there. I know it is a risk," Theisen wrote.

St. Paul attorney Jeffery Anderson, who has filed many lawsuits against the Catholic church, said, "This is a clear demonstration of the Abbot, or his lieutenant saying, 'Look, we know he's a risk for offending kids but we're going to take it."'

A year after being transferred to Benilde, Moorse asked to return to St. John's, but Theisen decided not to do that.


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