A February 6, 2016 press release from St. John’s Abbey [ View ] claimed that allegations of sexual abuse against Father Tom Andert were found to be unsubstantiated after “a six-month-long, comprehensive investigation into the claims.”
However, according to a February 12, 2016 article in The Record (College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Student Newspaper) the abbey’s investigator never interviewed the victim.
Excerpts from the February 12, 2016 issue of The Record:
Excerpt #1: After a third party investigation, the St. John’s Abbey released a statement on Feb. 4 saying the allegations of sexual abuse by former Abbey Prior Fr. Thomas Andert were found to be unsubstantiated.
Excerpt #2: Patrick Marker, the founder of the website BehindthePineCurtain.com, is skeptical of the independent nature of the investigation. “I question whether this was truly comprehensive,” Marker said. “The investigator didn’t even interview the victim. They didn’t get his story.”
Excerpt #3: Dennis Beach, the Abbey’s legal liaison, says it wasn’t for lack of trying, though. “We provided the investigator the contact information we had and I know the investigator reached out to the claimant,” Beach said.
Perhaps the most disturbing component of the abbey’s press release is this:
The investigator’s findings and the claimant’s allegations were submitted to the Saint John’s Abbey External Review Board (ERB). After careful review and extensive discussion, the ERB recommended that the claimant’s allegations were not substantiated by the facts.
Members of the External Review Board should 1) come forward publicly to discuss their recommendation 2) share the investigator’s findings and 3) make public the claimant’s allegations.
#3 could be difficult, since the claimant was never interviewed by the investigation.
It is apparent that Abbot John Klassen, his investigator and/or the members of the Abbey’s External Review are misleading the Saint John’s Community.
An explanation is due.