No Damages in Priestly Abuse Suit
Hennepin jury says lawsuit wasn't filed in time

By Margaret Zack
Star Tribune
March 26, 1996

A Champlin man who claimed he was abused by a priest in 1975 will receive no compensation because a Hennepin County District Court jury said Monday that the suit hadn't been filed in time.

Mark Schutz, 38, said he hadn't connected his personal problems to abuse by the Rev. Robert Kapoun in March 1975 until 1992, when he heard other victims of clergy abuse talk about the issue.

The jury said Schutz should have known by Sept. 1, 1975, that the abuse was wrong and that it was the source of his problems. By law, he would have had to file his suit within six years of that date.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had admitted liability for the abuse and its handling of Kapoun and had said it would pay damages.

Jeffrey Anderson, Schutz's attorney, said the jury was not told what effect picking the 1975 date would have.

"I think the jury thought the church would be paying damages," he said.

It found that Schutz had past and future costs of about $ 100,000 for therapy.

"He [Schutz] feels totally betrayed and revictimized by the church," Anderson said. "This young man has suffered a long time."

The archdiocese has refused to pay for Schutz's therapy, Anderson said.

He said that he will ask Judge Gary Larson for a new trial and that if he is unsuccessful he will appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Schutz was raised in a Catholic family and taught to revere the parish priest, Anderson said.

Kapoun had been the priest at St. Raphael's Church in Crystal, where the Schutz family were members, and he became friends with them.

When Kapoun moved to the Home of the Good Shepherd in North Oaks, he invited Schutz to spend the night with him and suggested that they engage in a sexual act.

Anderson told the jury last week that Schutz was a sexual innocent who had been taught by the church that individuals didn't engage in sex until after they were married.

After the incident with Kapoun, Schutz said, he was ashamed and his life became a mess. Anderson said Schutz withdrew from friends, dropped out of college, drifted into different jobs and went through a divorce.

Dan Haws, attorney for the archdiocese, told the jury that it admitted negligence and accepted responsibility for its handling of Kapoun. But he argued that Schutz always had been aware of the abuse and that he knew it was inappropriate.

Last month, a Hennepin County District Court jury awarded a Prior Lake man, Dale Scheffler,$ 550,000 in actual damages and $ 600,000 in punitive damages for abuse by Kapoun in 1981.

Kapoun, a priest since 1964, resigned earlier this year from three parishes near New Prague that he had served for about 11 years.

He was known as "the Polka Padre" for his use of music in masses.


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