Priest on archdiocese list in Albert Lea in ’60s

Published 11:05 am Friday, December 6, 2013

By Albert Lea Tribune and Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Thursday disclosed the names of 34 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing minors, following months of criticism that church leaders mishandled such allegations.

The list includes a former priest who served a stint at St. Theodore Catholic Church in Albert Lea in the 1960s who faces a civil lawsuit in Ramsey County over allegations of sexual abuse.

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Thomas Adamson, now 80, served in the Albert Lea parish in 1967 and 1968, at which time he was also chaplain of Lea College, an institution of higher learning on the west side of Albert Lea that shut down in 1973. He was removed from the ministry in 1985 and lives in Rochester.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, who has come under fire for the way sexual misconduct cases have been managed, said the disclosures are not intended to be final and that the list could be updated after a review of clergy files.

“All clergy feel the shame of the acts of some of their brother priests. We deeply regret the pain caused by sexual abuse by members of the clergy, and we remain committed to protecting children and promoting healing for victims,” Nienstedt said in a statement on the archdiocese’s website. “I sincerely pray that these efforts will contribute to the healing process for victims and others who have been harmed, and serve to protect God’s children and foster trust in the Church.”

In 2004, the archdiocese compiled a list of 33 priests deemed to have been credibly accused of sexual abusing a minor. The list was put together as part of a nationwide study to determine the scope of clergy sex abuse. Across the country, roughly two dozen archdioceses and dioceses already have made such lists public.

A judge ruled earlier this week that the archdiocese had to release all its names by Dec. 17.

The list released Thursday includes all 33 names from that 2004 list — including the names of four men who had claims against them that could not be substantiated — as well as the name of a priest recently convicted of child sex crimes.

The information includes the clerics’ names, and where known, their birth years and ages, years of ordination, whether they’re alive or the years they died, the parishes in which they served, their current statuses, and the cities and states where they live.

Most of the allegations stem from the mid-1950s to the 1980s, and all of the men named have been permanently removed from ministry or have died.

Most of the priests on the list already have been named publicly.

In an email sent to priests Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press, the archdiocese said 92 parishes have had at least one accused priest assigned to them at some point. That’s nearly half of the 188 parishes in the archdiocese, which serves about 825,000 Catholics. There were 213 parishes in 2010, before several merged.

Attorneys for victims of clergy sexual abuse sought for years to make the list public, arguing it’s in the interest of public safety. But church leaders resisted until now, saying it could harm the reputations of innocent priests. They argued that the term “credibly accused” — coined by the 2004 study — has a low threshold and meant that any report of abuse that was “not implausible” was included.

The archdiocese said a review of all clergy files was ongoing and that it expects its public disclosure will be updated regularly as future announcements are made.