Diocese of Winona releases names of priests accused of child abuse

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Priests accused of abuse were parish priests, high school teachers.

The Diocese of Winona disclosed the names Monday of 14 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with children, a list that was compiled a decade ago but never before made public.

The priests listed were parish priests and/or teachers in the diocese high schools or the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona. Unsealing the list was ordered by a Ramsey District Court judge earlier this month in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a man who said he was abused by former priest Thomas Adamson, who had been accused of molesting a number of boys in the Winona diocese before being transferred to the Archdiocese of St. Paul- Minneapolis.

It is the third such “secret list” made public in the past two weeks, following similar disclosures by the archdiocese and St. John’s Abbey of Collegeville.

“This is different from the lists of the archdiocese and St. John’s Abbey, because many of those priests were known,” said Patrick Wall, victim advocate at Anderson & Associates, a St. Paul based law firm whose lawsuit prompted the archdiocese and Winona’s actions.

“You have the biggest number of new disclosures in Winona,” he said. “It’s going to be a complete shock to people.”

Diocese issues brief statement

The Winona diocese issued a brief statement Monday morning about how the list was compiled, and encouraged victims of abuse to come forward.

“The Diocese of Winona is committed to the protection of young people … and encourages anyone who has been sexual abused to immediately report the abuse to law enforcement or the proper authorities,” said a statement by Bishop John Quinn.

All but one priests’ names released Monday were on the list prepared by the diocese in 2002 for the U.S. Conference of Bishops. The bishops had commissioned a national inventory of alleged clergy abuse cases after scandals erupted in Boston. Dioceses were asked to review records over 50 years and submit data for the study, which was released in 2004.

Any priests who have been credibly accused of child abuse since then are supposed to be added to the list. The judge ordered any newer names to be made public by Jan. 6.

Only one of the names on the Winona list is well known in the Twin Cities: Adamson, a former priest now living in Rochester who was also on the archdiocese’s list of credibly accused priests released Dec. 5. He was the subject of at least 10 lawsuits in the 1980s and 1990s related to sexual abuse of boys.

Other priests’ names on the list include: Sylvester Brown, Joseph Cashman, Louis Cook, William Curtis, Richard Feiten, Richard Hatch. Ferdinand Kaiser, Jack Krough, Michael Kuisle, James Lennon, Leland Smith, Robert Taylor.

Most are deceased

Only four are still alive: Adamson, Cashman, Krough and Smith.

The Rev. Leo Koppala, a Catholic priest serving in a Blue Earth parish, is the most recent name on the list. Koppala has been charged in Faribault County District Court with second degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly molesting a young girl at her grandmother’s house in Blue Earth in June.

The diocese’s action comes as Minnesota Catholics confront ever-growing allegations of clergy sexual misconduct that had gone unreported to the public, and unpunished by the church, over the past three decades.

On Sunday, St. Paul archbishop John Nienstedt made a public apology at an Edina church for not looking at the issue more closely when he became head of the archdiocese.

The lawsuit that pried open the files in the archdiocese and Winona diocese is based on a lawsuit by a man — identified as Doe 1 — who alleges that Adamson sexually molested him as a teenage altar boy in the mid-1970s while working at St. Thomas Aquinas parish in St. Paul Park.

Adamson had “unlimited access” to children at the school, even though the archdiocese and the diocese of Winona were aware that Adamson had “sexually molested dozens of boys, admitted to molesting boys, that he committed offenses at almost every parish he served, and that Adamson was a danger to them,” the lawsuit said.

Between 1958 and 1985, Adamson had more than a dozen clergy assignments in southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities.

Source: StarTribune