Lawyer: Archdiocese Not Billing
Attorney Andrew Eisenzimmer of the St. Paul firm Meier, Kennedy and Quinn said his office did notify the victim's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, that there were more than $6,000 in costs in the case of Dale Scheffler, who was 14 when he was sexually abused by the Rev. Robert Kapoun, known as "the Polka Padre."
But Eisenzimmer says the archdiocese and the priest are not asking Scheffler to pay the legal expenses.
"My assumption is that no attempt would be made to collect the costs," Eisenzimmer said. "We have never made any attempt to collect the costs in any of the cases I've handled for the archdiocese. If we were to attempt to collect, we would first consult the client (the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.)"
But Anderson, who represents Scheffler and has represented others in sexual-abuse cases brought against the archdiocese, says the letter detailing the costs was an attempt to intimidate sexual abuse victims.
"It is a conscious decision by a client and his lawyer to commit an act," Anderson said. "You don't bring a motion by accident. You don't tax costs by accident. It is one more attempt by the archdiocese and Father Kapoun to victimize Dale Scheffler. When I see that being done, I just say, 'Shame on them again."'
Tim Anderson, director of communication for the archdiocese, said Tuesday the claim was filed by Gallagher/Bassett Insurance Services, a Chicago firm that administered the archdiocese's insurance program in the 1980s. The archdiocese is now covered by Catholic Mutual Insurance Co.
Last year, Scheffler, 29, successfully sued Kapoun and was awarded damages of more than $1 million. Two weeks ago, however, the Minnesota State Court of Appeals overturned the ruling, saying Scheffler had waited too long to file the case.
In the wake of a minor protest at the Cathedral of St. Paul on Sunday, the archdiocese said no local official had any knowledge of the letter.
"If Archbishop Flynn would have known the letter from the insurance company was going out, he never would have approved it," Tim Anderson said. "The insurance company did not ask Archbishop Flynn for approval to send the letter to Jeffrey Anderson.
"We're talking about $5,000, and we've provided much more than that for therapy for Dale Scheffler," Tim Anderson said. "We're willing to continue that therapy even though the appeal failed. It's very upsetting to me and I'm sure, it's upsetting to Archbishop Flynn. It's a very unfortunate situation."
Eisenzimmer, the archdiocese's attorney, confirmed that Flynn knew nothing of the letter and said it was a routine practice for a law firm to tax the costs of litigation.
According to Minnesota law, the prevailing party in a civil suit can ask the court to make the plaintiff pay for out-of-pocket costs associated with the litigation. But Tim Anderson said Catholic officials have no interest in the money.
"We're not interested in collecting that money," Tim Anderson said. "And the insurance company has said they are not going to collect the money. It's just a routine action when a case may go to a higher court."
Earlier this week, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a news release severely criticizing Flynn for vindictive behavior against a known victim of sexual abuse.
"This type of harassment will scare others who are suffering, and
prevent them from coming forward and getting the help they need,"
said David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP. "It's
a newer, more vicious way for the church to keep abuse victims trapped
in silence, secrecy, and shame."
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.