St. Cloud Diocese Faces Abuse Suit
Burnsville Man, 48, Alleges Sexual Molestation by Priest in '60s

By Paul McEnroe and Pam Louwagie
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
June 25, 2002

A Burnsville man filed suit Monday claiming he was sexually abused by a St. Cloud priest in the 1960s.

Wayne Eller, 48, claims that the Rev. James Thoennes molested him while Eller was a student at a school run by the Church of St. Anthony of Padua in St. Cloud. The suit says he was 11 or 12 at the time.

The suit, filed in Stearns County District Court, alleges that the Diocese of St. Cloud concealed information relating to sexual misconduct by Thoennes. Steve Gottwalt, spokesman for the Diocese of St. Cloud, said that he hadn't read the suit yet and couldn't comment on Thoennes' status. A diocese secretary said that Thoennes isn't working in a parish.

Eller said in an interview Monday that he was abused at Thoennes' parents' home in Sauk Centre during a weekend trip.

Eller said that when he returned home and told his grandmother, who was raising him, that he'd been abused, she slapped him and warned him not to talk negatively about priests.

"I buried it as deep as it could be buried," Eller said. "It's taken me down roads that people shouldn't have to go. I've led a life of fear, anger and hatred over what happened."

He said he stepped forth after reading stories about other victims of sexual abuse by clergy.


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