Abuse Victims, Abbey Settle Claims

Topics: Columba Stewart, Jeff Anderson, Robert Stich

Victims of sexual abuse by monks from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., have reached a broad financial settlement with the abbey, attorney Jeff Anderson said Thursday.

Anderson said that the agreement also included “significant noneconomic points that will go towards creating strong safeguards in the future to prevent sexual abuse by abbey monks.”

He declined to say how many victims were included in the settlement and how much money the abbey agreed to pay. At least a dozen victims had sued or brought demands against the abbey in the 1990s, and some of them received settlements from the abbey at the time of their lawsuits.

A joint news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday on the abbey grounds. Anderson said that victims, their families and advocates will give statements and that he expects Abbot John Klassen to make a statement.

Anderson said that the agreement, reached in mediation talks that ended several weeks ago, holds the abbey accountable for the harm caused by abusive monks, ensures that safeguards are put in place to prevent abuse in the future, and provides financial compensation for the victims.

Robert Stich, an attorney representing the abbey, said the abbey wanted to address lawsuits and other legal claims without the delays of going through court.

“We got together with Jeff Anderson and decided to try and resolve the matters between us rather than going to court,” Stich said.

It is unclear if a lawsuit filed against two abbey monks this summer is part of the settlement.

Last summer, before mediation began, Anderson said that one of his goals beyond compensation was to ensure that abusive monks from the abbey personally apologized to their victims and that an outside board be created to oversee any allegations of abuse so that incidents could not be buried.

The Rev. Columba Stewart, spokesman for the abbey, said the abbey has been committed to the idea of an independent review board “for quite some time.”

The abbey has placed more than 12 monks on restriction after it found credible evidence that they committed sexual misconduct. The abbey has publicly identified them. Two of those monks took leave last summer to decide if they wanted to remain in the monastery, an abbey official said Thursday.

The abbey said “a handful” of monks – not identified – are on restriction for sexual misconduct that does not involve other people, but officials would not elaborate.

Abuse victims, abbey settle claims
Compensation, safeguards are part of agreement

By Paul McEnroe and Pam Louwagie pmcenroe@startribune.com and plouwagie@startribune.com
(Minneapolis, MN) Star Tribune
September 27, 2002

Topics: Columba Stewart, Jeff Anderson, Robert Stich

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