The names of 17 more priests identified as child sex abusers were released Thursday, a sign of the new transparency created by the historic settlement announced last week between the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and victims’ advocates.
The priests served in 84 parishes in Minnesota, including 56 in the archdiocese. Nine priests were accused of misconduct while working in the Twin Cities archdiocese, bringing to 55 now on its list of “credibly accused” offenders.
For church officials and victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson, the joint release of information illustrates the impact of the settlement, which has both parties working together to release priest names and files.
“This is the first significant disclosure of information that arose from the settlement,” said Anderson. “It’s a very hopeful sign.”
Archbishop John Nienstedt, in a written statement, said he was “profoundly saddened” by the harm the abuse caused the victims and their families.
“Ten of these 17 men are deceased,” he wrote, “but the pain they caused is very much alive.”
For victims of abuse, the acknowledgment was a sign of progress, but long overdue.
“My family has been waiting since 1962 to be validated — 52 years,” said Bob Schwiderski, a leading victim’s advocate in Minnesota who was sexually abused as a child by the late Rev. William Marks, identified for the first time this week.
While the announcement finally acknowledges what his family had argued for a half-century, it does not erase the pain, he said. That pain from one individual priest, he said, extends to dozens of men abused by Marks while serving in the New Ulm Diocese — then part of the archdiocese — in the 1950s and 1960s.
“I personally know 27 people, including me, abused by him,” Schwiderski said.
While Anderson’s office was aware of most of the priests on the list, four names are new: Robert Clark, Donald Dummer, Harry Majerus and John Owens.
Most of the abuse occurred between the mid-1950s and the mid-1980s, the archdiocese said.
Church no longer decides
The process for deciding which abuse is “substantiated” is no longer determined solely by the archdiocese, under the lawsuit settlement reached this month. The latest list was drawn up by the archdiocese, Anderson’s office and other professionals working with them, Anderson said.
Victims’ advocates called for the priests’ abuse histories to be made public.
“We are disappointed that Catholic officials aren’t telling parents where and when these crimes happened,” said Frank Meuers, of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, in a written statement. “We suspect that in virtually every case, St. Paul church employees sat on this information for years or decades.”
Anderson expects details on the abuse committed by the priests to be released in the months ahead, along with more names.
The other priests newly listed are: Edward Beutner, Thomas Ericksen, Ambrose Filbin, Jerry Foley, Ralph Goniea, Reginald Krakovsky, Wendell Mohs, James Nickel, James Porter, Charles Potocki, James Vedro and Adalbert Wolski.
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