June 17, 2003 — Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey today announced the membership and the mission of an External Review Board to review allegations of sexual misconduct against members of the abbey and to provide advice on policies and programs. Klassen agreed to form the Board as part of an Oct. 1, 2002, settlement of several allegations of abuse against the abbey. The first meeting of the Board was held at Saint John’s Abbey June 6-7, 2003.
The Board’s responsibilities include advising Saint John’s Abbey regarding how to respond compassionately and effectively to survivors of sexual abuse and to minimize the possibility of a recurrence of abusive behavior.
According to the terms of the settlement agreement, four members of the board were selected by the abbey and four were selected by St. Paul attorney Jeffrey Anderson. One member is to be chosen by the Board itself. The Board is to be ecumenical and is to include clergy abuse survivors, current or former law enforcement officials, a current or former judicial official, a mental health professional and a monk of Saint John’s Abbey.
The initial Board members are David Baraga, St. Cloud; David G. Farrington, Burnsville; Charles A. Flinn, Jr., St. Cloud; Susan Fuchs-Hoeschen, Sauk Rapids; Catherine Lally, St. Paul; Fr. Jonathan Licari, Saint John’s Abbey; Patrick Marker, Mount Vernon, Wash.; and Janet Robert, Stillwater, Minn. The ninth member remains to be chosen. Brief biographies of each member are appended to this press release.
The agreement between the abbey and Anderson stipulates the following responsibilities for the Board.
There is to be an investigative subcommittee, which may include members of the Board. The subcommittee is to include a mental health professional, an active or retired law enforcement official and a survivor of clergy abuse.
The Board will review, document and make recommendations regarding the policies and programs of the academic institutions sponsored by Saint John’s Abbey dealing with abuse prevention and education. It will also review the abbey’s existing sexual abuse policy and its implementation and will recommend refinements of the document and its implementation, as necessary, at least annually. In addition, the Board will conduct an annual review of each monk offender’s program and will recommend to the Abbot what changes, if any, should be made in the individual programs and work assignments.
The abbey and Anderson have agreed that the Board will have an advisory, not a governance role. In a letter to Board members, Abbot Klassen said, “Although the final decision to implement your recommendations will rest with me. . . I assure you [that I will listen to you], as Saint Benedict says, ‘with the ear of my heart.’”
Dr. David Baraga, interim chair of the Board, said “The board welcomes the opportunity to assist the abbey in reaching out to victims of abuse, in helping to promote reconciliation and healing, and in helping the abbey achieve its goal to assure that Saint John’s is a safe and healthy environment.”
SAINT JOHN’S ABBEY EXTERNAL REVIEW BOARD — JUNE 2003
David Baraga is executive director of The Central Minnesota Mental Health Center and has been a practicing psychologist for over thirty years, specializing in the treatment of both victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse. He graduated from Marquette University in 1963 and received his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) in Clinical Psychology. In addition to his work in the area of clinical psychology, he served in the Peace Corps in Nepal, in the U.S. Foreign Service in Vietnam and as a Field Representative for CARE, Inc., in Tunis, Jerusalem and Gaza.
David G. Farrington is chief of police of the city of Burnsville. After graduating from Saint John’s University in 1971 with a bachelor’s in government, he joined the Burnsville Police Department as a Trainee, becoming a Lieutenant in 1978 and a Captain in 1991. In 1989, he graduated from the 158th Session of the FBI National Academy, and in 1992, he obtained a master’s in public safety education and administration from the University of St. Thomas. In January 1998, he became Burnsville’s Chief of Police and leads a nationally accredited 101-member police department. He is also a member of the Police Executive Research Forum based in Washington, D.C.
Charles A. Flinn Jr., a native of Windom, Minn., graduated from Yale University in 1962 with a bachelor’s in history and in 1965, from the University of Minnesota Law School. He practiced law with a general practice firm in St. Paul for 15 years, and in 1980, was appointed to the bench by then Governor Al Quie. Re-elected several times, he retired in 1992 after 22 years as district court judge. His judicial work was in all areas, but with special emphasis on family and juvenile matters. He is married to Judge Elizabeth Hayden, who works in St. Cloud and has three adult children by an earlier marriage and three grandchildren.
Susan Fuchs-Hoeschen, a licensed independent clinical social worker, is a life-long resident of the St. Cloud area, a mental health professional working in the adult mental health unit at St. Cloud Hospital and a survivor of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest. She received her bachelor’s in social work from St. Cloud State University in 1987 and a master’s in social work from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1992. She is a wife, mother of two daughters and works daily with survivors of sexual abuse as a strong advocate for justice and healing for victims, supporters and faith communities.
Catherine Lally is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 1977, received her master’s in family social science from the University of Minnesota in 1990 and completed her doctoral work in family social science at the University of Minnesota in 1993. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota, Saint Mary’s University and Bethel Seminary, where she has taught such courses as marriage and family therapy theory, human sexuality and child-centered family therapy. She is a therapist in private practice and at Washburn Child Guidance Center. She has worked with families who have experienced intra-familial sexual abuse, has presented workshops and lectures on multiple aspects of sexuality and has published research on sexual meaning during engagement and marriage.
Jonathan Licari, OSB, is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey. He was ordained for the Diocese of Duluth in 1976, and then, after several years in parish ministry, entered the monastery and made his first vows in 1982. His obtained his bachelor’s from St, Francis College in Fort Wayne, Ind. and his Master of Divinity from the School of Theology Seminary of Saint John’s University. In 1989, he received his doctorate in Canon Law from St. Paul’s University, Ottawa, Ontario. He taught theology and Canon Law at Saint John’s University and served on the Marriage Tribunal of the Diocese of St. Cloud. From 1989 to 1994, he served as prior of the monastery. At present, he is pastor of Holy Name Parish in Medina.
Pat Marker is a 1983 graduate of Saint John’s Preparatory School and a 1986 graduate of Jamestown College in North Dakota. Following a nine-year teaching career in the Minneapolis area, he returned to the Seattle area to work in the technology sector and is currently working as an Internet consultant. Pat has been an outspoken critic of Saint John’s and its handling of the sexual abuse scandal that affected not only him but several of his classmates. In 2002, he created the online Abuse Disclosure Project (www.abusedisclosureproject.com) to provide information and support for victims of sexual abuse at Saint John’s.
Janet Robert is a longtime resident of Stillwater, Minn. and a member of St. Michael’s Catholic Church. She co-founded Hope House of Saint Croix Valley (a foster care home for persons with AIDS) and the St. Croix Valley Christians in Action (a faith-based community service organization) and has volunteered with the St. Croix Valley Life Care Center, Tubman Family Alliance and the United Way. In 1994, she was elected to the Oak Park Heights City Council and later appointed to the Washington County Corrections Advisory Committee and the Workforce Center Board. She graduated cum laude from Notre Dame University and St. Louis University Law School. She is the founder of the Minnesota chapter of Democrats for Life and currently is counsel to a variety of nonprofit organizations.