No local priest misconduct

Published 11:47am Thursday, June 26, 2014

Detailed reports released Monday by the Diocese of Winona about 14 priests accused of sexually abusing children do not specify any allegations of misconduct at area Catholic churches.

Two of the priests on the list — Thomas Adamson and William Curtis — served at St. Theodore Catholic Church. Adamson served for about a year, while Curtis served for 7 1/2 years. The men served back to back.

A third priest, Ferdinand Kaiser, served at the All Saints parish in New Richland, and a fourth, Leland Smith, served at St. Casimir in Wells.

The information shows when church officials first learned of allegations against each priest. And, it shows that some clergy were allowed to remain in ministry for years, even decades, after those allegations came to light.

Out of the 14 priests on the list, the information shows that some priests went to treatment multiple times, then were returned to ministry at parishes or high schools. In two cases, the priests weren’t accused until after they died. In one case, a victim withdrew her accusation. Only two of the priests faced criminal charges.

The Diocese of Winona said they released the information about the priests in an effort to be transparent and promote healing.

 

Thomas Adamson

Thomas Adamson
Thomas Adamson

The diocese received its first complaints against Adamson, now 80, in 1964, while he was superintendent of schools and assistant pastor of St. John’s in Caledonia. That was three years before he was assigned to serve in Albert Lea at St. Theodore Catholic Church and as chaplain at Lea College, an institution of higher learning on the west side of Albert Lea that shut down in 1973.

In total, the diocese has received 36 accusations of child sexual abuse by Adamson, though the report does not state where Adamson was serving when each of these accusations were given.

Adamson stayed in Albert Lea for about one year, before he was reassigned in August 1968 to St. Lawrence in Fountain and St. Kilian in Wykoff.

The diocese states Adamson completed three rounds of in-patient treatment, plus several periods of outpatient therapy from 1974 through 1984, and returned to ministry after the first two times. He was permanently removed from the ministry in 1984.

The diocese identified at least four parishes where complaints against Adamson were made. They were St. John’s in Caledonia, St. Francis of Assisi in Rochester, Immaculate Conception Church in Columbia Heights and Church of the Risen Savior in Apple Valley.

 

William Curtis

William Curtis
William Curtis

The diocese received its first complaint of child sexual abuse by Curtis in October 1988 and a second in June 1990. It is unclear where Curtis was serving at that time.

Curtis served at St. Theodore Catholic Church in Albert Lea in August 1968. He was reassigned to St. Teresa in Mapleton in January 1976.

After the diocese received its second accusation of child sexual abuse, Curtis entered treatment in 1990. While in treatment, he was suspended from active ministry.

He died in April 2001 at the age of 81.

 

Ferdinand Kaiser

Ferdinand Kaiser
Ferdinand Kaiser

Kaiser served at the St. Mary parish in Geneva in 1944 and at All Saints in New Richland starting in 1952.

He was charged by criminal complaint with sexual misconduct against a boy in Waseca County in November 1967 while he was serving at St. Jarlath in Iosco in Waseca County.

He resigned from active ministry in March 1968 and pleaded guilty to sodomy in May 1968.

He died in January 1973.

In 1993, the diocese received an accusation of child abuse against a boy and girl allegedly committed by Kaiser in the late 1960s after he had resigned.

 

Leland Smith

Leland Smith
Leland Smith

Smith served at the St. Casimir parish in Wells, which includes both a church and a school, starting in August 1960 before he was transferred to another parish in July 1963.

More than 30 years later — in May 1994 — the diocese received a number of reports of Smith sexually abusing minor males and sexually approaching a man in the early 1970s.

He was placed on a leave of absence in June 1994 to complete treatment. After completion of treatment, his ministry was strictly limited to the elderly.

In March 2002, the diocese received another allegation of sexual abuse, and his ministerial privileges were suspended.

He retired from ministry shortly after, and in April of this year, his ministerial privileges were permanently removed.