Email from Abbot Klassen to Victim of Br. Jim Phillips

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Brother Jim was removed from public ministry immediately at the time your allegation came to our attention in August 2002 and has been at the abbey since that time. At no time since has he had access to minors as part of his work.

From: Abbot John Klassen’s private account
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 1:37 PM
Subject: response to your inquiry

Dear [Victim of Br. Jim Phillips] –

I am writing to formally respond to your request for information about how the abbey has handled Brother Jim’s sexual misconduct subsequent to the signing of the settlement agreement.

1) Brother Jim was removed from public ministry immediately at the time your allegation came to our attention in August 2002 and has been at the abbey since that time. At no time since has he had access to minors as part of his work.

2) Brother Jim denies the allegations that you have made. The abbey hired an external investigator (Dan Connolly from Faegre and Benson) and ultimately this investigation caused me to conclude that your claims were valid. As a result Brother Jim lives under a safety plan here at the abbey and reports regularly to a supervisor. The safety plan specifically puts in place safeguards against further sexual abuse or exploitation. Brother Jim’s supervisor has full knowledge of Jim’s history. This safety plan is reviewed annually by the Review Board and by outside professionals.

3) The abbey has not made a determination that Brother Jim cannot continue in monastic life. He is willing to live under supervision, with a safety plan, because of his vow of religious obedience.

4) I cannot require Brother Jim to receive either psychological evaluations or treatment – canon law gives him the right to refuse this and he has done that. We make opportunities for counseling and spiritual direction available and he is free to accept or reject these.

5) When Brother Jim served in the Bahamas, he did not work in an environment where he had access to minors. He worked and lived in the monastery. All evidence suggests that he is a situational offender, that is, one who engages in inappropriate sexual behavior in the relationships he forms in the context of ministry. These opportunities were not available to him in the Bahamas. He lived and worked in the community.

Although I would have liked to respond sooner to your message, I first had to resolve canon law issues that affected my ability to communicate with you concerning how the abbey has responded to your allegations against Brother Jim.

I hope that this answers your questions.

Sincerely, +John Klassen, OSB

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Topics: Jim Phillips, John Klassen

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