Missouri abbey faces suit; former St. Cloud bishop accused of abuse cover-up

St. Cloud Times, Minnesota/June 24, 2011

A lawsuit filed Thursday against a Missouri abbey accuses Catholic Church officials - including former St. Cloud Bishop Jerome Hanus - of covering up sexual abuse by a former monk who spent several years at St. John's University three decades ago.

The lawsuit, filed in Nodaway County Circuit Court, alleges that then-Benedictine monk Bede Parry abused the unnamed plaintiff in 1987 during a summer choir camp at Conception Abbey in northwest Missouri while Parry was director of the boys' choir.

According to the lawsuit, Parry attended St. John's University's School of Theology in Collegeville from 1979 until 1982.

The plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit under the name John Doe 181, claims the Missouri abbey knew Parry had sexually abused other students but took no action. Among those the lawsuit accuses of knowing about the abuse are Hanus, who at that time was abbot of Conception Abbey, and Jerome Theisen, former abbot of St. John's.

Hanus was abbot of Conception Abbey before becoming bishop of St. Cloud. He served in St. Cloud from 1987-1994. He is now the archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa.

The lawsuit alleges that between 1973-1979 while Parry was a monk at Conception Abbey, he reported to Hanus that he had been involved in three inappropriate sexual relationships. It also alleges he admitted a relationship with a student in 1981 while he was at St. John's. Parry admitted the sexual misconduct to Theisen and two other monks at St. John's, the lawsuit claims.

Parry was allowed to remain at St. John's until he graduated in 1982, the lawsuit states, but as a condition he was required to receive psychological treatment.

The plaintiff alleges that Parry abused him during the summer choir program in 1987. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff called his parents the next day and told them about it. They confronted Hanus, who told them Parry had a "mental breakdown" and would receive treatment, the lawsuit states.

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson is representing the plaintiff and has filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of victims of clergy abuse.

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