Twin Cities area priest called 'evil' by man who committed suicide

  • Article by: ROSE FRENCH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 9, 2011 - 10:00 PM

A man who shot himself in front of a Kentucky church posted sex abuse accusations involving Catholic clergy on Facebook just before taking his life and referred to a Twin Cities area priest as an "evil man."

David M. Jarboe Jr., 23, singled out the Rev. William Baer, who was rector of St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul when Jarboe was there for three semesters between 2006-08. Baer, 53, is now pastor at Transfiguration Church in Oakdale.

St. Thomas spokesman Jim Winterer said neither the seminary nor the Twin Cities archdiocese has ever received complaints about Baer.

The Facebook post was removed shortly after Jarboe's body was found in front of an Owensboro, Ky., Catholic church on Thursday. But several Kentucky media outlets have quoted excerpts of Jarboe's post, which criticized the Catholic Church's response to clergy sex abuse.

Jarboe did not accuse any priest by name but wrote that abuse in the church is "real" and that he hoped to "save at least one child from the pain and torment that I had to go through," the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

Winterer confirmed that Baer was named in the note and said the priest was taken aback. Winterer said that Baer is not speaking to the media but that he is "very saddened" by Jarboe's death. Baer left the St. Thomas seminary in spring 2010 after serving there nearly 11 years.

"He does not know what motivated David's criticism," Winterer said. "He had positive conversations with David after he left the seminary."

Meanwhile, the Diocese of Owensboro has launched an investigation into Jarboe's post, according to a diocesan press release. Police are looking into Jarboe's death. The Twin Cities archdiocese and the seminary do not plan to investigate.

When reached by phone in Kentucky on Tuesday, Jarboe's mother, Karen, declined to talk about her son.

Rose French • 612-673-4352

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