The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office is investigating three cases of alleged sex abuse by priests for possible criminal prosecution, said Sheriff Jim Kostreba.
He declined to provide details about the cases but said recently that the investigations began several weeks ago and that some are related, at least in part, to a recent lawsuit filed against priests. St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who sued two St. John’s Abbey priests on behalf of two plaintiffs last month, said his clients have reported abuse to authorities. He believes that the investigations stem from those conversations with authorities. Anderson’s suit claims that the Revs. Dunstan Moorse and Allen Tarlton abused a former prep school student as late as 1985.
Tarlton and Moorse are on restriction at the abbey for alleged sexual misconduct. Anderson said another client of his also talked to authorities about a third priest who is a member of the St. Cloud Diocese. He would not name the priest. Kostreba said he hasn’t yet determined whether the cases he’s investigating fall within the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution. Minnesota’s criminal statute of limitations is complex, but officials said recently that a little-understood law extends the statute in some cases of child sexual abuse.
Under the law, a person can be prosecuted for sexually abusing a person younger than 18 on or after Aug. 1, 1984, provided that the victim didn’t report the misconduct to a law-enforcement agency more than three years ago. Advocates say that many victims of sexual abuse by priests have never gone to law-enforcement officials, which means the offense could be chargeable as long as it occurred on or after Aug. 1, 1984.
Jul 13, 2002
Criminal prosecution of priests considered