New York man sues St. John’s Abbey, alleging abuse
New York Post
June 7, 2011
(New York Post) — A New York man filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that he was sexually abused at a Bronx church in the 1960s by a priest who went on to become abbot of a Minnesota monastery and helped found an institute to deal with the problem of clergy sexual abuse.
The federal lawsuit was filed in Minnesota against the Order of St. Benedict and St. John’s Abbey. It alleges that former Abbot Timothy Kelly abused the man when he was an altar boy at St. Anselm’s Church in New York, where Kelly was an associate pastor. The abuse occurred in 1966 and 1967, when the plaintiff was about 15 or 16, according to the lawsuit.
Kelly died in October. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson said the man decided to come forward after reading Kelly’s obituary.
Two former monks at St. John’s Abbey, Patrick Wall and Richard Sipe, joined Anderson at a news conference to announce the lawsuit. Both men said they worked with Kelly on abuse issues and said the monastery had fostered a “climate of sexual secrecy” that came from the top.
The abbey issued a statement saying it was “saddened and shocked” to learn of the allegations and that it has begun an investigation.
Abbey spokesman Paul Richards said the institute Kelly co-founded “no longer exists.” Institute materials are still posted on the St. John’s University website but list no activities since 2002, when it was incorporated into the St. John’s School of Theology-Seminary.
Kelly became a monk at St. John’s in the central Minnesota town of Collegeville in 1955, was ordained a priest in 1961 and was elected abbot at St. John’s in 1992. A year later, he co-founded the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute at St. John’s, saying the church needed to face up to the problem of sexual abuse by monks and priests.
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