Another clergy sex abuse case had been thrown out of court, but former priest Jim Fitzpatrick still wanted to testify.
So on Thursday, he told media representatives about how he had reported cases of clergy sex abuse that were covered up.
Fitzpatrick had been expecting to testify in a civil suit against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed by a man who claimed he was molested by the Rev. Thomas Adamson in the 1980s at a Burnsville church. But on Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed the suit.
"It's a matter of conscience, and now that I cannot testify in the trial, I feel that the truth must be known," Fitzpatrick said on Thursday at the St. Paul law office of Jeff Anderson, the attorney for Jim Keenan, 45, of Savage, who claimed that Adamson molested him in the 1980s.
Keenan had claimed that he was not subject to the six-year statute of limitations that applies to abuse cases because his long-repressed memories of the abuse delayed the claim.
Fitzpatrick, a key witness for Anderson, said he reported suspicions about Adamson to the Diocese of Winona in 1965, when he was a priest there, after two sets of parents came to him with claims of abuse of their boys and 15 others. He said then-Bishop Edward A. Fitzgerald brushed him off, showing him the door and telling him to worry about his own church.
Fitzpatrick said Adamson was moved from Caledonia and put in charge of the athletic department at Lourdes High School in Rochester.
Adamson, now 79, who still lives in Rochester, has been named in many suits but never faced charges because of the statute of limitations. He was defrocked in 1984.
Asked why he didn't report the abuse to police, Fitzpatrick said he feared for his job.
"Back then, we were employed at will, which meant we could get fired with no justification," he said.
Anderson shared documents with the media on Thursday, including a letter written in 1984 in which Bishop Robert Carlson, now the Archbishop of St. Louis, wrote that Adamson had admitted to abusing a boy in 1982.
In another letter, written in 1975, Bishop Loras Joseph Watters of the Diocese of Winona acknowledged claims from across the diocese that Adamson had abused boys over a 15-year span.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a statement on Thursday that the claims Anderson sought to present had been public record for more than 20 years and that it regretted any pain or harm caused by Adamson.
The Diocese of Winona said in a statement on Friday that they acknowledge the mistakes they have made in the past handling reports of sexual abuse and have worked since the 1980's to implement stringent policies and procedures to protect children and young adults.
Anderson said that the legal battle in Keenan's case has come to an end but that he will keep fighting to win release of a list of 46 priests with Minnesota ties who have been credibly accused of molesting children. Anderson has the list, but it is sealed under a court order.
Kristian Hernandez • 612-673-4217