St. Paul: Man Takes Abuse Claim to Cathedral

By Stephen Scott
Pioneer Press
July 17, 2002

Another allegation of sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic priest was brought to public light Tuesday on the streets of St. Paul as a civil suit was filed against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The suit, which names former priest Lee Krautkremer, 61, as a co-defendant, was announced outside the Ramsey County Courthouse. The alleged victim, Theodore Krammer Jr., 34, of Forest Lake then walked with his family, attorney Jeffrey Anderson and supporters nearly a mile uphill to the chancery.

A face-to-face meeting with the archdiocese's chief of staff took place on the Summit Avenue sidewalk. The Rev. Kevin McDonough acknowledged lapses after Krammer brought allegations against Krautkremer in 1983.

Specifically, McDonough said, other parishes where Krautkremer served should have been notified.

"I think we dropped the ball on this one," McDonough told Krammer and his family. "You've helped us to bring the truth out on this."

After the Krammer family's allegations of the abuse, Krautkremer served parishes in St. Michael, Minn., and Minneapolis.

"He was, unfortunately and typically for that day, assigned to other parishes," McDonough said.

In 1989, after the archdiocese's first intensive study of clergy sexual abuse, Krautkremer was assigned as chaplain at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where he served until this year.

Given the national attention to clergy sexual abuse, Archbishop Harry Flynn in March requested Krautkremer's resignation as chaplain at North Memorial. Krautkremer resigned April 15.

North Memorial spokeswoman Wendy Jerde said Tuesday that Krautkremer worked with adult patients primarily in the cardiac unit, and that the hospital received no "complaints or issues" about him in 13 years. She said the archdiocese told the hospital of the past allegations.

Last winter, McDonough said, Krautkremer was ordered to stop providing substitute clergy help in parishes near the hospital.

Additionally, according to the sexual abuse policy adopted by U.S. Catholic bishops in June, Krautkremer no longer can serve as a priest, retain the title of "Father" or "Reverend," or wear priestly garb. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday at the home he owns in Minneapolis.

Krammer alleges Krautkremer molested him at a Wisconsin cabin in 1977, when Krammer was 10. At the time, Krautkremer was a priest at St. Peter's Church in Forest Lake, where Krammer was an altar boy and a student at the parish school.

Krammer told his family about the incident in 1983 when he was 16, and his parents, Mary and Theodore Krammer Sr., then had three meetings with archdiocesan officials, including then-Bishop Robert Carlson.

"We never received an apology from the archdiocese," Theodore Krammer Sr. said Tuesday.

"I'm sorry that when Bishop Carlson met with you 19 years ago that he did not apologize," McDonough told the family. "Perhaps then he was not sensitized to that."

The Krammer family said they were led to believe in those 1983 meetings that Krautkremer would be dealt with. They are angry that he served in parishes after allegations were made, and that Krautkremer was not publicly identified previously as a past offender.

"The passage of time and a person's position in an organization does not give them the right to cover up these horrific acts," said Krammer Jr.

McDonough said the archdiocese "strenuously denies" accusations the public was misled. Krautkremer's assignment to North Memorial "was made with full disclosure to officials" there, McDonough said.

Since he was ordained in 1966, Krautkremer served at St. Michael, Minn.; St. Michael's, West St. Paul; St. Peter's, Forest Lake; St. Joseph, Lino Lakes; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Minneapolis.

The suit brought by Krammer Jr. seeks $50,000 in damages and asks for the location of the cabin formerly owned by Krautkremer, so that Krammer Jr. can contact police in that jurisdiction. The Krammer family declined McDonough's invitation for a private meeting Tuesday.

The archdiocese this spring identified three priests who were working in administrative capacities in the archdiocese but not in parish settings because they had been accused of sexual abuse. Krautkremer was not one of those identified.

"I think there would have been merit to that," McDonough said Tuesday.

The U.S. bishops' new policy bars past abusers from any job in the church. Of the three previously identified, Gilbert Gustafson has left his chancery job, and Michael Stevens will leave by the end of this month, McDonough said. Joseph Wajda, who was involved in an out-of-court settlement in 1990 but always has maintained his innocence, is seeking a new hearing with the archdiocese, McDonough said.


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