The Rev. Rieder Admits Molesting 4 Parishioners

By David Unze
St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, MN)
April 17, 2003

A former St. Cloud Diocese priest is in jail this morning after pleading guilty Wednesday afternoon to molesting a former female parishioner.

The Rev. Donald Rieder, 78, also admitted molesting three other young female parishioners. He won't be charged in those cases, because all of them fall within the statute of limitations. His admissions to the criminal charges - three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct - as well as the uncharged acts are part of a plea agreement that victims approved, said Janelle Kendall, Stearns County attorney. It includes an agreement that Rieder's 34-month sentence will be stayed on the condition that he serve a year in jail.

Rieder wanted to begin serving his time as soon as possible, so Kendall and Rieder's attorney, Roger Nierengarten, agreed to set bond at $10,000 and have Rieder spend his time before sentencing in jail rather than free.

1st to be convicted

Rieder is the first diocesan priest to be convicted in Stearns County of sex crimes. As many as 14 priests - some who worked for the diocese - are restricted in their movements and activities at St. John's Abbey after committing sexual misdeeds. Some have admitted molesting children, and none of the priests or monks on restriction has faced criminal charges in Stearns County.

Rieder gave brief answers to several questions Wednesday as Nierengarten and Kendall questioned him. Stearns County District Court Judge Richard Jessen ordered a presentence investigation and a sex-offender evaluation.


Rieder admitted molesting the young girl in the early 1990s at St. John Cantius Church, where Rieder served as parish priest. He admitted touching the girl on numerous occasions under her clothing and acknowledged he did so with "sexual intent."

He admitted molesting three other females during the mid-1980s - two at Cantius and one at her residence. Those admissions were an integral part of a plea agreement in which Rieder won't be charged with any crimes against those victims, Kendall said.

Victims wanted him to serve as much jail time as possible, but they also wanted his admissions and a court order preventing him from having any unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 18. Both happened in court Wednesday.

Five other victims accused Rieder of sexual abuse - bringing the number of allegations to nine - but their claims are outside the statute of limitations and go back to 1965, when Rieder was a priest in Randall.

Rieder is named in a civil lawsuit from a parishioner who accuses him of abusing her while he was at Cantius.


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