New lawsuit says three clerics molested a student


In separate instances, over three years, three Benedictine clerics at St. John’s Abbey and university sexually abused a teenaged student, according to a new civil lawsuit filed today.

It’s the second such case filed against the St. Cloud MN Catholic institution in the last two weeks.

The suit says that Fr. Bruce Wollmering, Brother John Kelly, and Father Finnian McDonald sexually violated a 19 year old male college student (identified only as John Doe) and that Catholic officials knew or should have known of the crimes.

Specifically, the suit charges that:

-Between 1984-1986, through his “role of psychologist, counselor and/or spiritual advisor,” Wollmering “deceived” Doe into “engaging in sexual contact with him under the guise of providing religious instruction and emotional counseling.”

-Between roughly 1984-1986, “while a faculty member, faculty resident, spiritual guide and/or holy authority figure to Doe,” Kelly engaged in illegal sexual contact with Doe.

-Between approximately 1985-1986, while heading the academic advisory program, McDonald sexually solicited and exploited Doe, by “soliciting sexual contact with him, attempted to sexually batter him, and sexually exploited him.”

Doe attended St. John’s from roughly 1982-86.

Doe was “raised in a devout Roman Catholic family and therefore developed great admiration, trust, reverence and respect for the Roman Catholic Church and its agents.”

“That a student gets sexually abused by three clerics in three years at St. John’s shows that the recklessness, deceit, corruption of church officials was very widespread,” said Pat Noaker of St. Paul, the victim’s attorney. “We’re grateful for this young man, and each of the dozens of others who have helped expose dangerous Benedictine clerics.”

“We hope this man’s courage will inspire others who are hurting because of clergy sex crimes to speak up,” said Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata, the Minnesota director of a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) (Phone: 952-471-3422, Cell: 612-840-9270). “When victims and witnesses speak up, at least there’s a chance for healing, justice prevention and closure.”

The suit, filed in Stearns County Court, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages. The victim, now in his 40s, lives on the west coast.

Last week, another child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit was filed against the Abbey and the Benedictines, accusing them of fraud. It was brought by Jeramiah “Jerry” D. McCarthy’s and accuses the school and church officials of knowing in the mid-1960s that Wollmering had been “sexually inappropriate” with a child.

Wollmering passed away last year. The whereabouts of Kelly and McDonald are unclear.

SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009
For more information: Attorney Patrick Noaker 651 227 9990

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Topics: Bob Schwiderski, Bruce Wollmering, Finian McDonald, John Kelly, Patrick Noaker, SNAP

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