(Pioneer Press) The Rev. Allen Tarlton, a monk with St. John’s Abbey accused of sexually abusing minor students, filed an emergency court order Sunday to bar release of his deposition.
Attorneys representing a man identified as John Doe 2, who has sued the Abbey and Tarlton over abuse he claims happened in 1977, recorded the monk’s deposition Oct. 10 for possible use at trial. Tarlton is aging and might otherwise be unavailable, attorney Jeff Anderson said.
Anderson and Waite Park attorney Michael Bryant said Friday that they would release the deposition at a 1 p.m. news conference Monday. But they delayed that release after the judge took the matter under advisement Monday.
The move to release the video was in response to a Jan. 27 St. Cloud Times editorial board meeting with Abbott John Klassen, head of St. John’s Abbey, and Bishop Donald Kettler, the bishop of St. Cloud.
The newspaper live-streamed the interviews with the church officials, at which they described safety policies regarding priests and monks accused of abuse and said those policies were working.
An attorney for Tarlton filed a motion in Stearns County District Court Sunday asking Judge Vicki Landwehr to stop release of the deposition.
Tarlton, 86, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia, his attorney wrote, and is living in a care facility.
“Tarlton would be irreparably harmed if plaintiff taints the jury pool with solicited publicity regarding Tarlton’s deposition testimony, where Tarlton’s fitness to provide that testimony is highly disputed and will be subject of motions … to preclude all or part of that testimony as inadmissible,” attorney Robert Stich of Stich, Angell, Kreidler, Dodge and Unke of Minneapolis argued.
Anderson countered that Tarlton was lucid and responded appropriately to questions in the deposition.
“There was no sign of Alzheimer’s — in fact, he corrected me on dates,” Anderson said.
Most significantly, Anderson said, was Tarlton’s answer to questions on what restrictions were placed on him by the Abbey.
He responded that he was prohibited from being around the preparatory school, Anderson said.
Despite the Abbey’s claim that he is under a safety plan, “it is so loose it is tantamount to no safety plan,” Anderson said. “He can pretty much do what he wants and go where he wants.”
In the St. Cloud Tkimes video, posted at sctimes.com/1etHHep, Klassen said the monks who have sexually abused children “in fact are at the lowest level of risk to reoffend” because they are “situational” and not “preferential” offenders.
“So what that means is if we isolate them from that situation within which that offense occurred, in fact, we can be strongly sure of their ability to be safe,” he said.
Those under a “safety plan” ask for permission to go into town, for example, but are not accompanied. They can walk freely around campus, “but we don’t allow them into dorms, facilities where they could establish relationships with young kids … or with vulnerable people.”
Stich, Tarlton’s attorney, said in a written statement Monday, “We do not believe that lawsuits should be litigated in the media or at a press conference. We believe that lawsuits should be tried in court pursuant to the rules of law.”
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St. John’s Abbey monk moves to stop release of deposition
By Emily Gurnon
February 4, 2014