Email to Incoming Prioress and Others

Topics: Ann Marie Biermaier, John Klassen, Michaela Hedican, Othmar Hohmann, St. Ben's, St. Benedict's, Susan Sink

On Wednesday, I learned that the “issue” was being discussed at the monastery and that “they” were “deciding what to do.” I passed this information along to the victim.

Email to Incoming Prioress and Others

Sister Michaela Hedican and others,

*** Regarding Sister Ann Marie Biermaier

On Monday, April 18, 2011, I contacted Sister Ann Marie Biermaier about allegations of misconduct (by her) at St. Joseph Lab School. When I asked for a response, she quietly said, “I want to talk with someone first.”

I followed that phone conversation with an email. I made it clear that if Sister Ann Marie did not engage in any misconduct, I would do my best to clear her name. I requested that she provide a response by today. I simply wanted to understand her intentions so that I could inform the victim.

On Wednesday, I learned that the “issue” was being discussed at the monastery and that “they” were “deciding what to do.” I passed this information along to the victim.

I spoke to Susan Sink on Thursday. I shared with her that I received a full statement from the victim that morning, and that I wanted to speak with Nancy Bauer before forwarding the statement [ View ] to the monastery. Susan later requested a copy of the victim’s statement for Nancy Bauer, but said that Sister Bauer was “not available” to speak to me. I declined.

The statement reads, in part, “She put her hand up my shorts and fondled me. I can still remember her fingers there… I was afraid to tell my parents or anyone else about this until now. I was so ashamed of what happened with Sr. Ann Marie and felt like it was my fault. I still kind of feel that way. I think more people would come forward about the nuns if they knew it was safe to speak up, though. Is it safe? What’s going to happen if I say out loud that Sr. Ann Marie is a pedophile? It’s all just so sad.”

Thirty plus years… It is a long time to live with such shame.

*** Regarding Fr. Othmar Hohmann

On July 28, 2010, I contacted Abbot John Klassen regarding similar allegations against Fr. Othmar Hohmann. I wish to make these allegations known to you as well.

Victim #1: According to one victim of abuse in the 1960′s, “Othmar was a beast. He preyed on young girls. I did not witness anything with the male gender. What I do remember is being grabbed by him with his huge, stubby, fat fingers, pulled closely to him where he would put his hands all over my body, underneath my skirt, rub against me, kiss me, and tear my clothes off in the church office at St. Joseph. I saw him put his hands under the skirts of other young girls, rub them against himself and kiss them. As he visited family homes on Sunday afternoons, he would gravitate to the young females and do his thing. Also, he produced theatrical performances in the St. Joseph Parish where I saw him many times doing his thing during rehearsals. His victims probably number in the thousands if he did this in other parishes. I have encouraged other women I know to come forward with their stories. Some might, and I know others will not, as they have not dealt with it themselves. A number of years ago, I contacted St. John’s Abbey about this… [they] told me that the abbot was not available for communication. Once again, I was a victim… not heard, dismissed and feeling alone.”

Victim #2: On July 28, 2010, another victim of Fr. Hohmann contacted this web site. The woman identified herself, asked that her name not be made public on the web site, and told her story of abuse by Fr. Hohmann at St. Joseph Parish and at her family’s home. She called to corroborate the first account of abuse provided by another parishioner at St. Joseph Parish.

Forty plus years… It is a long time to live with such shame.

***

Those with knowledge of misconduct at St. Joseph Lab School, whether victims or otherwise, are all waiting for your response before deciding what step to take next.

I am hopeful that by Monday morning, April 25, 2011, St. Benedict’s Monastery will issue a statement announcing that following a credible report of misconduct, monastery officials met with Sister Ann Marie Biermaier, who admitted to misconduct with at least one minor student, that an investigation is underway, and that a plan is being developed to contact former students at St. Joseph Lab School, the College of St. Benedict, St. John’s University, and students at all of the parochial schools where Sister Ann Marie served since joining the monastery in 1971. In addition, that allegations of misconduct by Fr. Othmar Hohmann are also being investigated.

It would be so refreshing to NOT read that Sr. Ann Marie has stepped down from her roles as director of the Scholars-in-Residence Program and the Benedictine Women Service Corps because of illness or family issues.

As I expressed in my email this past Monday, I remain willing to discuss these issues with anyone involved in the decision-making process.

The 3200 registered members of the Church of St. Joseph community, as well as the greater CSB/SJU community, deserve the truth.

Please do not reoffend your community, and the many victims of abuse, by providing anything short of full disclosure and strong leadership.

Patrick J Marker

Letter to Incoming Prioress and Others
Sent via Email
April 22, 2011

Topics: Ann Marie Biermaier, John Klassen, Michaela Hedican, Othmar Hohmann, St. Ben's, St. Benedict's, Susan Sink

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