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Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune
Feb. 17: Archdiocese names 9 more priests
- Article by: Jean Hopfensperger
- Star Tribune
- February 17, 2014 - 9:21 PM
The names of nine more priests accused of sexually abusing minors were made public Monday by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, just one day before a court deadline to identify all accused priests.
The fact that most of the priests were already known, the subject of at least four lawsuits with dozens of victims, prompted victims’ advocates to ask why the men weren’t on a list released in December.
The names were released the day after a Ramsey County District Court Judge denied a request by the archdiocese to delay enforcing an order to release names of all priests accused of abuse — not just “credibly accused” — and to block attorneys from taking testimony under oath from Archbishop John Nienstedt and former Vicar General Kevin McDonough.
The archdiocese had requested the delay while it appeals the order to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. While it is ordered to file the names of the accused priests with Ramsey District Court, the names will be under seal.
The now former priests include Michael Kolar, who was assistant director of the Catholic Youth Center in St. Paul for nearly 20 years; Gerald Funcheon, a former Anoka priest who has admitted to abusing nearly 50 boys; and Kenneth LaVan, who transferred through nine parishes before retiring in 1998.
In a statement announcing the names, the archdiocese said the release is part of its ongoing commitment to addressing clergy misconduct.
“We are making these disclosures as part of the ongoing review of clergy personnel files conducted by Kinsale Management Consulting,” said the statement. The archdiocese hired Kinsale to review the files following a wave of lawsuits alleging clergy misconduct that were filed last year. More names may be forthcoming.
But victims’ attorneys charge that the disclosures were made because of court pressure. Ramsey District Court Judge John Van de North had ordered the archdiocese to release in December the names of all priests credibly accused of abuse before 2002. Nearly all the names on the list released Monday should have been included on that list, they argued. “This [today’s list] underscores how deficient and defective the archdioceses’ whole internal process has been,” said Jeff Anderson, the St. Paul attorney whose lawsuit sparked the release of the names. “This is all information they’ve had for years. They’re only rolling it out now because the heat is on.”
Archdiocese spokesman Jim Accurso agreed that seven of the nine names on the list should have been among those made public in December. Their omission was discovered by the archdiocese’s ongoing clergy file review, he said, and that’s why they were released Monday.
Frank Meuers, a Minnesota member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said he was frustrated by the way the names are being “dribbled out,” leaving victims to wonder when and if their perpetrator will be named.
“The archdiocese has to hire an outside company from California to research its own records to know whose names are in there?,” asked Meuers. “I don’t get it. And if they knew the names were there, but didn’t reveal them [in December], isn’t that against church law or civil law?”
To illustrate their point, Anderson’s law firm provided a copy of a 1992 memo from the Rev. Robert Rossi of the Crosier Religious Order, noting Funcheon admitted to abusing 50 boys. Rossi wrote that he had referred an official from an Indiana diocese where Funcheon had served to former archdiocese vicar general Rev. Kevin McDonough, “from whom he was seeking advice about handling Jerry’s alleged sexual misconduct.”
Funcheon was someone who clearly belonged on the December list, Anderson said.
The priests on Monday’s list served at parishes across the metro area. In all but one case, the incidents occurred more than 25 years ago, “and all of the clergy involved have been out of ministry in the archdiocese for many years, in most cases for decades,” said the archdiocese statement.
Just one priest was accused of abuse in the past decade: the Rev. Fredy Montero, a priest from Ecuador who was arrested for sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl from his Minneapolis church before he was allowed to return to Ecuador in 2007.
The names of priests and their assignment history announced Monday are:
Robert Blumeyer: Named on the list of abusers from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, he served from 1956 to 1983, with his longest assignments at St. Boniface in Hastings and St. Augustine’s in St. Cloud. Died in 1983.
Gerald Funcheon: A member of the Crosier order, he worked in and outside the archdiocese from 1965 to 1986. Longest assignment was at St. Odilia’s in Shoreview. Now living in Dittmer, Mo.
Kenneth Gansmann: Served in archdiocese from 1949 to 1959 at St. John’s in Union Hill. Deceased.
Thomas Gillespie: On abuser list of St. John’s Abbey, served at St. Bernard’s in St. Paul from 1964 to 1978 and St. Mary’s Church in Stillwater from 1978 to 1986.
Michael Kolar: Assistant director of Catholic Youth Center in St. Paul from 1969 to 1988. Now living in St. Paul.
Kenneth LaVan: Served in archdiocese from 1958 to 1998 at eight churches, including Guardian Angels in Oakdale St. Joseph’s of Lino Lakes. Now lives in Oakdale.
Francisco (Fredy) Montero: Ecuadoran priest who worked in Hispanic ministry at Incarnation Church in Minneapolis from 2002 to 2007. Currently living in Ecuador.
James Stark: Served from 1964 to 1986 in six parishes, including St. Michael’s of Farmington and St. Peter’s in Richfield. Deceased.
Harold Walsh: Served in archdiocese from roughly 1969 to 1991, including at St. Henry’s church in Monticello and Holy Trinity Church in South St. Paul.
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511
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