Confrontation to conciliation: Deal shifts clergy abuse legal tactics

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Anderson said the agreement will require ongoing public disclosure about abuse cases and that the agreement is more extensive than a 2002 deal reached with St. John’s Abbey about its handling of clergy abuse claims. The Collegeville, Minnesota, abbey agreed to keep abusive monks away from children and pay for therapy for some victims. It also said a review board would investigate abuse complaints. The board included abuse victims and people with law enforcement and mental health experience. Anderson hailed that deal as historic and ground-breaking and also appeared with Abbot John Klassen and victims at a joint news conference, a situation similar to the one planned for this afternoon. (Anderson now says the abbey violated the terms of the agreement, a charge the abbey has denied.)

Confrontation to conciliation: Deal shifts clergy abuse legal tactics

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who for 30 years sued Catholic dioceses over clergy sex abuse, said Monday he was joining forces with the leaders of the Twin Cities archdiocese.

“We’ve forged a new way,” Anderson said as he and Minnesota church leaders announced what they called a historic deal to protect children, the result of settling a landmark public nuisance lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona.

Much of the agreement, however, describes policies already in place.

That was confirmed by the Winona diocese, which said the settlement “reaffirms” its current child protection policies, and by Archdiocese Vicar General Charles Lachowitzer, who described the agreement as “the announcement of actions already taken and the steps we will follow on a path of healing and reconciliation, restitution.”

An MPR News investigation last year found church officials had ignored their own policies for decades.

Anderson on Monday said he would make sure the church complied with the new agreement, though he added that no plans exist for any independent monitoring.

His praise for church officials, during an emotional press conference packed with abuse survivors and their families, marked an abrupt turn in the decades-long battle to reveal how Catholic leaders protected priests who sexually assaulted children.

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Confrontation to conciliation: Deal shifts clergy abuse legal tactics
Madeleine Baran
MPR
Oct 13, 2014

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Topics: 2014 Archdiocese Settlement, John Klassen

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