The archdiocese’s publication of a list of metro priests deemed to have abused kids is unprecedented in Minnesota.
The Rev. Jerome Kern was sued for fondling boys in a swimming pool and a lake. The Rev. John T. Brown was sued over a molestation that occurred in a sex education class. The Rev. Francis Hoefgen was sued for abusing a youth living with him as a foster son.
The three priests were among 30 identified on a list of clergy who have been credibly accused of abusing boys and girls, a list that was made public Thursday by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis after it had been held secret for 10 years.
Some have only been accused of abuse; others found guilty. Some are dead, but most are alive. Some of the cases have been widely known; others are just coming to light.
The publication of the list, which came after a court order, is unprecedented in Minnesota. It marks the beginning of a new protocol within the archdiocese in which it has pledged to continue identifying any priests found to have abused a child.
It also is spurring calls by the St. Paul police for victims to step forward and demands from victims’ advocates for names of “the rest” — priests they believe should have been named.
“It’s very important that these names be out there,” said the Rev. Tom Doyle, a Virginia-based canon lawyer who has testified on behalf of victims in abuse cases in civil courts.
“It may enable more victims to step forward and begin the process of healing. It will allow people who are around the priests to know what they’re accused of. And it’s a step in the gradual revelation that the archdiocese has handled these cases poorly,” Doyle said.
The list spans more than 60 years, from 1950 to 2012. The sexual abuse of children by priests swept across metro-area parishes, 92 in all, from Lake Elmo to Hopkins.
Most, but not all, victims were boys. And some parishes were made particularly vulnerable: Three abusive priests served together in 1984 in the same parish — St. Joseph’s in Lino Lakes — Pastor Lee Krautkremer and priests Timothy McCarthy and Robert Zasacki.
Some priests on the lists were transferred to a dozen different parishes.
Still, victims’ advocates were skeptical that just 30 priests could have been credibly accused over such a long time span. They’re already trying to determine whether any other names should have been given.
Archbishop John Nienstedt, in a written statement Thursday, said more names will be added and put on the archdiocese’s website if additional claims are substantiated.
“The disclosures made today are not intended to be final,” the archbishop wrote.
Most named before
The full list of 34 names, which includes four priests who were the subjects of unsubstantiated abuse claims, was made public after a court order following continuing allegations of clergy sexual abuse and of coverups by some church officials. Thirty-two of the priests were accused of abusing children, and two were accused of sex with women.
Most have been named in criminal charges and civil lawsuits dating as far back as the early 1960s, but at least eight names are new to the public domain. They include McCarthy, the Rev. Paul Palmitessa and the Rev. Richard Skluzacek.
The disclosure was ordered Monday in St. Paul by Judge John B. Van de North Jr., who gave the archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona until Dec. 17 to release their lists. The Winona Diocese has not announced when its disclosure will take place.
A second list of priests identified over the past decade must be submitted to the court by Jan. 6.
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