The Ramsey County attorney’s office will not file charges in two more cases of alleged priest sex abuse, bringing to nine the number of cases that have not met the office’s standard for prosecution.
County Attorney John Choi’s announcement Wednesday coincided with the release of two more lists of accused priests, issued separately by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents many victims in clergy sex abuse cases.
“As we have said from the very beginning, the facts will lead the way. We can only do what the law allows, and we will do what justice requires,” Choi said in a statement.
The two cases involve allegations from 1992 to 1994 at St. John the Baptist Church in New Brighton, and from 1979 to 1984 at the Church of St. Casimir in St. Paul.
The New Brighton case involved a report of abuse made to the archdiocese in 2006 that was closed when the alleged victim did not contact police, according to a memo released by the county attorney’s office. The case was reopened in May 2013 when the alleged victim gave police a written statement that he was cornered in the rectory, fondled and forced to perform oral sex. He said the memories came back to him “in a flood.”
Nine altar servers at the time of the alleged abuse were questioned by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, and none corroborated the allegation. The case was not charged because of lack of proof and the difficulty of proving a case that relies on repressed memories, said the memo by Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Richard Dusterhoft, director of the criminal division.
In the St. Paul case, a man told police in November 2013 that he was sexually abused by two priests starting in 1979 when he was 13. The alleged abuse continued until 1984, said another memo from Dusterhoft.
One of the priests died in 2008. The other priest allegedly fondled the victim through his clothing in 1981, the memo said. The statute of limitations isn’t an issue in the case, Dusterhoft wrote, but second-degree criminal sexual conduct cannot be charged because prosecutors can’t prove that the victim was under 16 at the time. Dusterhoft also noted that a lesser count couldn’t be charged because of a lack of evidence.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement critical of Choi’s office.
“When it comes to clergy crimes and coverups, John Choi has been no ‘profile in courage,’ ” said a statement from Frank Meuers, a Minnesota member of SNAP. “So we’re saddened but not surprised by news that he won’t prosecute two predator priests.”
Two other cases being investigated by St. Paul police remain open, and have been incorporated into “phase two” of authorities’ investigation into alleged clergy abuse. The second phase is an “overall investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” said Choi’s news release.
In October, Choi announced that seven cases of alleged clergy sexual abuse had been closed without criminal charges because of restrictions in the law, the death of the suspects and other complications.
Prosectors decided not to file charges in three cases, he said, and St. Paul police closed four cases without presenting them to his office for prosecutorial review.
Dueling lists of accused
In separate news releases Wednesday, the archdiocese and Anderson’s office released the names of four and 17 accused priests, respectively. Only one name was on both lists.
The four men named by the archdiocese have substantiated child sexual abuse claims against them. They are:
The Rev. Michael Bik, of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville; the Rev. James Robert Murphy, who served in several parishes in Faribault in the 1980s; the Rev. James Namie, now deceased, who served in Minneapolis and Twin Cities suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s; and the Rev. Raimond Rose, a teacher at Cretin High School in St. Paul in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as at other Catholic schools.
All had been permanently removed from ministry. Assignment histories for the men are available at http://tinyurl.com/o5abmc2. Namie was on both lists.
The 17 names listed by Anderson’s office represent priests whose alleged victims have contacted Anderson’s office in recent months. The priests come from all corners of the diocese, said Patrick Wall, an investigator with Anderson’s office.
“They were involved in all aspects of life in the church, from parishes to schools to charities,” said Wall. “Hundreds of people were impacted by these perpetrators.”
Reporter Jean Hopfensperger contributed to this story.