Vulnerable Adult Victims Abandoned

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It is time for Abbot John Klassen to disclose the names of all credibly accused monk and lay offenders — of both children and vulnerable adults — in the Saint John’s community, precisely because he has taken credit in the past for understanding that, “secrecy is harmful to victims.”

Adult Victims Abandoned

A letter written by Abbot John Klassen of Saint John’s Abbey on April 15, 2011 included that names of eighteen men who “had credible allegations of sexual abuse, exploitation, or misconduct” against them.

Klassen wrote [ View ]:

I also have learned that knowing that others have been victimized by someone galvanizes individuals to come forward. Saint John’s wants to provide help to respond to this horrible abuse of trust that occurred.

and

A person does not have to feel alone; help is available.

The abbot’s 2011 letter was pulled from the abbey’s web site during the summer of 2012.

In the summer of 2012, the web site read:

“… rigorous investigations deemed that allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct* against 23 members of the Abbey were credible.” [ More ]

When a new statement was posted in December of 2013 [ View], four of the names listed in the abbot’s 2011 letter were gone:

Former Abbot John Eidenschink
Father James Kelly
Brother Isaac Connolly
Brother Steve Lilly

Saint John’s has admitted that each of these men has been credibly accused of sexual abuse. Why were they removed?

It is because their victims were all “vulnerable adults.” A vulnerable adult is simply a victim over the age of eighteen. Abbot Eidenschink’s numerous victims were young monks. Kelly, Connolly and Lilly’s victims were college students.

It is no coincidence that the abbey changed its listing criteria in 2012.

Standard (2002):  

Monks who have sexually abused young persons or vulnerable adults

Standard (2011):  

Credible allegations of sexual abuse, exploitation, or misconduct

Standard (2012):

Likely have offended against minors

By using the new standard, the abbey discounts the allegations of many victims, including the victims of misconduct perpetrated by Father Bruce Wollmering in 2002 and 2003.

Four of Father Dan Ward’s known victims were all “vulnerable adults.” At least four “vulnerable adults” have claimed misconduct by Father Dan Ward. [ View ]

Under the old standards, Father Dan Ward would have to be listed, as would Abbot Timothy Kelly, Brother Robert Burke, Father Peregrin Berres, Brother Paschal Brisson, among others.

Early on, Abbot John Klassen’s set a compassionate tone:

“my heart has ached as I have learned more from victims and therapists about the long-term emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual pain that is caused by sexual abuse.” – Abbot John Klassen (Open Letter of Apology – June 7, 2002)

Since 2002, Klassen has received a lot of praise for his transparency:

[Abbot Klassen] knew he was risking exactly the kind of negative attention the abbey has received, and he made the disclosure anyway, because he understands that secrecy is harmful to victims. I know of no other religious institution that has been so forthright, proactive, and humble in coming to terms with its own failure. Making mistakes is common. Owning your part and taking appropriate action takes courage. – Elisabeth A. Horst (The Abbey Banner – Fall 2002 – Page 8) [ PDF ]

In 2006, when it was suggested to Abbot Klassen that, “research showed that more monks will be named and more victims will come forward,” he responded by saying, “That is totally an unfounded, false statement. I mean false.” [ View ]

Since 2006, six new names have been added to the public lists. [ View ]

It is time for Abbot John Klassen to disclose the names of all credibly accused monk and lay offenders — of both children and vulnerable adults — in the Saint John’s community, precisely because he has taken credit in the past for understanding that, “secrecy is harmful to victims.”

If he cannot take this step, it is time to stop accepting credit, or step down.

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Topics: Isaac Connolly, James Kelly, John Eidenschink, John Klassen, Steve Lilly

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