Two lawsuits accuse the former prior of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., of abusing two former prep school students in the 1970s and early 1980s.
The lawsuits come after the abbey and its review board earlier this year cleared the Rev. Tom Andert, saying the allegations were unsubstantiated. Andert’s name has never been on the abbey’s list of those with credible allegations against them of the abuse of minors.
But Jeff Anderson, the lawyer representing the men suing Andert, said abbey investigators never interviewed the victim in one of the lawsuits before declaring the allegations unsubstantiated.
The abbey issued a statement denying the allegations and saying it intends to defend both cases.
Todd Belrose, now of Florida, spoke at the news conference. He reported the abuse last year to the abbey, which put Andert on leave pending an investigation. In February 2016, the abbey issued a statement saying after a six-month investigation it determined the claim to be unsubstantiated. It then reinstated Andert. Belrose said he was not interviewed by abbey officials.
Andert also was cleared of allegations that he abused another young man in 1994.
“The abbey’s investigation process has been dedicated to protecting the offender and protecting St. John’s,” Anderson said. “One of its most prominent officials has been repeatedly accused and repeatedly reinstated.”
As prior, Andert held the No. 2 position at the abbey. He was prior of St. John’s Abbey from 2007 to 2015. From 1981 to 1987, he was president of Benilde-St. Margaret’s School in St. Louis Park. He was headmaster of St. John’s Preparatory School from 1988 to 1994. He taught German in St. John’s Preparatory School and the university.
Staff and Associated Press