Minnesota Cases That Made Headlines

By Linda Scheimann
Star Tribune
February 28, 2004

Some high-profile Catholic clergy abuse cases in Minnesota:

- Thomas Adamson: In 1990, Anoka County jurors awarded more than $3.5 million to a former Columbia Heights altar boy sexually abused for eight years by Adamson, who had been transferred to the Twin Cities after sex-abuse charges in Winona, Minn. It was then the largest award by a jury in the country to an abuse victim of a priest, and the first time a church had to pay punitive damages for sexual abuse by a priest. A judge reduced the punitive award; the victim received more than $900,000. There were other suits involving Adamson, some settled out of court.

- Robert Kapoun: Between 1989 and 1996, several sex-abuse suits were filed against Kapoun, "the Polka Padre." One was settled out of court in 1990. Plaintiff Mark Schutz received no damages when Hennepin County District Court jurors ruled his case wasn't filed in time. Victim Dale Scheffler was awarded more than $1 million in damages, but the ruling was reversed when the state Appeals Court said Scheffler came forward too late. Kapoun resigned in 1996 during the Scheffler trial.

- James R. Porter: In 1992, the former priest, who had married and was the father of four children, was convicted of molesting a teenage baby-sitter in 1987 at his Oakdale home. That conviction was overturned. In 1994, a Washington County judge ruled for 21 Bemidji-area men seeking $17 million in damages stemming from Porter's sexual abuse in the late 1960s. Porter, also accused of molestation in Massachusetts and New Mexico, is in prison in Massachusetts after admitting in 1993 to charges of molesting 28 children in the Fall River Diocese. More than $16 million has been spent to settle 216 sexual-abuse claims in the past 50 years in that diocese; 131 claims involved Porter. He is up for parole next month.

- Monks at St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minn.: In 2002, an undisclosed financial settlement was reached between abbey leaders and victims who had been sexually abused by monks. It held the abbey accountable for the harm caused by the monks and included provisions to require safeguards against abuse. At the time, the abbey said 11 of its monks were on restriction because of evidence of sexual misconduct.

- Crosier fathers and brothers, Shoreview: In May 2002 the head of the U.S. Crosiers disclosed that Brother Gregory Madigan admitted sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in the mid-1980s at a Crosier school and seminary in Onamia, Minn. Madigan, who also admitted molesting other boys, had been sent to treatment, then put under restriction at the Crosier national headquarters in Shoreview. In June 2002, the Star Tribune reported that six Crosiers had been accused of sexually abusing minors at the Onamia school in the 1970s and '80s. One victim, Mark London, revealed that he had been paid $150,000 in 1988 as part of a confidential settlement involving sexual abuse at the Onamia school. In October 2002, the Crosiers identified eight members who had sexually abused minors and had been placed on restriction. The order also announced a stronger policy against sexual misconduct. In November 2002, the Star Tribune reported alleged sexual abuse by Crosiers of altar boys who had served at Holy Cross Church, near the Onamia school.


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