Lawyer seeks release of list of 33 accused priests

  • July 10, 2013 - 6:15 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. — An attorney said Wednesday he's asked a Ramsey County judge to unseal a list of 33 priests that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has identified as having credible allegations of abuse lodged against them.

The list of names is already in court files from a previous lawsuit, but a judge sealed it.

Jeff Anderson said he filed a motion to unseal it Wednesday on behalf of David Pususta, of St. Paul, who told reporters at a news conference Wednesday he was repeatedly sexually abused by the Rev. John Brown in a Waverly parish rectory when he was about 10 years old in the 1960s, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Pususta said he believes Brown abused other children as well.

Pususta said he's struggled with alcoholism and problems with relationships because of the abuse. By going public, he said, he hopes other victims will come forward.

Brown, who's now 92 and living in a Maplewood assisted living home, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that he "very, very vaguely" recalls fondling some boys in a locker room. He was asked if he was sorry.

"I have to be sorry," he said. "Wouldn't anybody be sorry?"

But when asked about other accusations of molestation, the newspaper said Brown appeared to contradict himself, saying "I don't recall actually molesting," adding, "If it happened I'd have to have remorse."

A parent complained about Brown's behavior to Archbishop Leo Binz in 1966, according to a 1992 memorandum by Rev. Kevin McDonough, the vicar general of the archdiocese. Anderson made the document public at the news conference.

"Archbishop Binz confronted Father Brown who realized how easily this sort of behavior could be misunderstood," McDonough wrote. "Father Brown says that he has not done so since 1966."

The Archdiocese issued a statement noting that a judge has denied two previous requests to unseal the list of 33 priests.

"This request refers to information the archdiocese was asked to provide 10 years ago as part of a national study of allegations of clergy sexual abuse between the years 1950 and 2002," the statement said. "In many instances, most dating back decades, the alleged victim was not available or the alleged perpetrator was no longer alive or no longer in ministry so there was no way to determine the substance of such allegations."

The archdiocese said it told the study authors that allegations "which were not implausible" had been made against the 33 priests over 52 years.

"None of the identified clergy have been in church ministry for at least 10 years and several are deceased. Most have already been publically named in media or other public reports," the statement said.

Without naming Pususta or Brown, the statement indicated that a church official who works with people alleging abuse had met with Pususta several times, and that Brown has been out of ministry since 1991.

"Any sexual abuse is absolutely unacceptable, and we make no excuses for perpetrators and regret all harm caused," the statement said. "We believe that comprehensive and groundbreaking steps the archdiocese has taken over the past 20 years have protected children in parishes, schools and other church ministry settings."

The Minnesota Legislature in May passed a law that gives victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits. Anderson and other attorneys have filed several lawsuits since then on behalf of people who claim they were sexually abused by priests.

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