St. John’s Abbey, facing more than 60 lawsuits related to sexual abuse of children, released the names of three more monks accused of abusing children Tuesday as part of a lawsuit settlement.
The Benedictine monastery, one of the largest in North America, has settled 17 sex abuse lawsuits in recent months, said victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson.
The abbey now lists 21 monks credibly accused of sexually abusing children. The latest additions are the Rev. Casimir Plakut, the Rev. Augustine Strub and the Rev. James Kelly.
The monks served at parishes across Minnesota, including Stillwater, Duluth and Wayzata, from the 1940s to the 1970s. All three are deceased, and had severed their relationship with St. John’s before they died, according to a statement released by the abbey.
“Getting St. John’s to acknowledge a history never before revealed publicly is so important to protecting kids in the future, and to the validation and healing of survivors,” said Anderson. “Many of the brave people I’ve been able to work with tell me that seeing the person who abused them identified publicly gives them comfort that they are not alone, a feeling that they are believed.”
The abbey in Collegeville shares a campus with students at St. John’s prep school and St. John’s University. Many of its priests also have served Twin Cities parishes.
The abbey did not comment on the release of the three new names. But when it posted the first list of abusers on its website, its statement read: “This list underscores our commitment to being transparent in our policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse.”
The disclosures come after a Stearns County district judge earlier this year ordered the abbey to turn over the files of every St. John’s monk accused of abuse. The order was issued following a lawsuit on behalf of two brothers abused in the 1970s by the Rev. Richard Eckroth. According to documents released earlier, Eckroth brought boys to a St. John’s cabin for years, giving and getting massages to the boys while naked in the sauna.
The 21 monks now identified include six monks living at St. John’s under supervised safety plans, 13 monks who are deceased and two men who have been dispensed from their religious vows and no longer are connected to the abbey.
The background of monks identified this week:
Strub, ordained in 1947, served in parishes in Cloquet, Naytahwaush, Callaway and at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth. He left the priesthood in the early 1960s and died in 2015.
Kelly, ordained in 1942, taught music at St. John’s University and other colleges. He also served in various parishes in the Twin Cities. He was formally dismissed from the priesthood in 1976 and died in 2011.
Plakut, ordained in 1938, worked in parishes including Duluth, Detroit Lakes, Cold Spring, and Naytahwaush. He left St. John’s in 1962 and died in 1988.