Collegeville, Minn. — Today Saint John’s Abbey is announcing a settlement agreement that is the result of several months of intensive negotiation between Saint John’s Abbey and Jeffrey Anderson in his role as legal representative of victims of sexual abuse by members of the monastic community.
Abbey representatives met with Mr. Anderson June 18 to explore ways to resolve claims of his clients against the abbey and to enable them to be compensated without waiting for the court system to act. All participants reached an agreement during meetings mediated by the Rev. Margo Maris and attorney Mike Ceresi and held August 12 – 15 in Minneapolis. In the weeks that followed, the agreement was refined and executed.
In summary, the settlement includes compensation and non-compensation components. All payments have been made, and all parties to the settlement agree that the compensation was fair and reasonable. Although the agreement protects Saint John’s Abbey from further legal liability, some of Mr. Anderson’s clients may name Saint John’s Abbey and individual monks in pursuing claims for insurance-covered liability. In making this settlement, the abbey has forgone many avenues of legal defense, including the statute of limitations.
The non-compensation component of the settlement, portions of which were in place prior to the settlement discussions, includes the following agreements:
1. Creation of a lay review board of at least seven members to investigate and assure full accounting for any future allegation of sexual misconduct against a member of the monastic community, the monastery’s employees or its volunteers. As required by law, allegations of sexual abuse will be reported immediately to law enforcement authorities.
2. The abbey will finance a retreat in the St. Cloud area to enable victims to explore the value of offering ongoing, annual retreats. If participants determine that annual retreats would be beneficial, the abbey will sponsor them.
3. The abbey will continue its policy of paying for ongoing group and individual therapy as needed by victims, and funds will be provided for spiritual direction for victims.
4. To help prevent recurrence of sexual misconduct, the abbey will continue a comprehensive program to educate all members of the monastic community, employees, volunteers and students on issues related to appropriate human boundaries. The review board will review and approve each of these educational activities. The board will also review and make recommendations on the Abbey’s sexual abuse policy and its implementation on an annual basis.
Saint John’s Abbey and Jeffrey Anderson collaborated in this long, intense process because we have the same goals: resolution, restitution, reconciliation and healing for past misconduct – and safeguards to diminish the chance for recurrence.
We met with Mr. Anderson in a spirit of good faith and openness. I am grateful to him for his hard work and cooperation in achieving a resolution that will benefit persons who were abused. On behalf of all of us in the monastic community, I want to conclude by telling each of these abuse victims once again how very sorry I am for the pain they have experienced.
Abbot John Klassen, OSB
October 1, 2002