A former Minnesota man who was a 1983 victim of sexual abuse at St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville, MN is challenging local Catholic officials to explain why they shared a nine year silence about abuse allegations against a priest. He is also requesting that leaders with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and St. John’s Abbey take immediate steps to notify all potential victims of the cleric and former teacher.
For three years, Pat Marker served as a member of a St. John’s External Review Board, a panel that considered sex abuse allegations against the monastic community in Collegeville. Last Friday, frustrated and worried about what he calls “continued reckless secrecy,” Marker quit that panel.
Two weeks ago, Abbey officials admitted that Fr. Michael Bik was one of three clerics who were ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse. (Two of them live at the Abbey; one is now deceased.)
Bik worked at two Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis before joining the monastery in Collegeville. Bik then worked at St. John’s Preparatory School and St. John’s University before being placed ‘on restriction’ in 2002.
“Archdiocesan and Abbey officials knew about allegations against Bik in 1997,” Marker said, “But no one told the public until weeks ago.” “The Abbot kept a terrible secret from the board for two years and then the board kept the secret from the public,” Marker said. “This type of secrecy is dangerous for kids, unhealthy for adults and hurtful to the entire Catholic community.”
David Clohessy of St. Louis, the National Director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) considers Marker’s resignation a brave move that sends a strong message.
“Nine years ago, archdiocesan officials had a duty to help those who may have been abused by Bik. Abbey officials, on the other hand, knowingly allowed the perpetrator to work with children and young adults for another five years,” Clohessy said, “Which is worse for a victim?? Being left behind – or knowing that you’ve been set up? It’s a question that should never be considered – but now it will.”
Today, Marker is writing to Flynn and Klassen and unveiling a new web site, www.behindthepinecurtain.com, which contains over 200 published articles and other information about the sex abuse scandal at St. John’s.
“I am taking a proactive approach toward exposing the truth. I expect to fail in my quest for full disclosure but someone has to try,” Marker said, “Many victims need to feel validated before they come forward. Others want to see that their perpetrator is not in a position to strike again. This web site has the potential to heal.”
A copy of Marker’s letter, sent today via fax and e-mail to Flynn and Klassen, is below.
Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006
Archbishop Harry Flynn
Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
226 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55102
Abbot John Klassen
St. John’s Abbey
31802 County Road 159
Collegeville, MN 56321-2015
Archbishop Flynn and Abbot Klassen,
In 1997, the Archdiocese and Abbey learned of allegations of sexual abuse against Fr. Michael Bik. The public and potential victims should have been notified. They were not and Fr. Michael Bik continued his work at St. John’s Prep School.
In 2002, the Abbey settled several lawsuits against its members. Meetings were held with the students and staff at the Prep School. Students were told to see Fr. Michael Bik for support.
In 2003, the Review Board at St. John’s Abbey asked about all allegations against members of the community. Bik’s name was not brought forward until months later.
Two months ago, an announcement went out in the St. John’s Preparatory alumni publication with a phone number for victim support services – but listed none of the offenders. While other Board members applauded this as ‘progress’, I saw it as a missed opportunity. Two weeks ago, the local public learned of Bik’s name after a press release was sent to a single newspaper.
Last week, after another request to notify the greater public and all potential victims of Michael Bik (and Bruce Wollmering) was put off, I resigned my position on the Review Board.
Today, I am asking you, Abbot John Klassen, to make public your reasons for waiting nine years to publically disclose allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Bik. Why was he allowed to continue teaching for five of those years.
Today, I am asking you, Archbishop Harry Flynn, to make public your reasons for never disclosing allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Bik.
Today, I am asking that you each make public your plan to notify every possible victim of Michael Bik. This includes – but is not limited to – parishioners and students in the Twin Cities, and students at the Prep School and University (graduated and withdrawn), Leadership Camp participants, and local track meet athletes.
Today, in an effort to inform the public of the allegations against Bik and others in the St. John’s community, I am launching the “Behind The Pine Curtain” web site (http://www.behindthepinecurtain.com).
The web site will provide the public with information and victims with a forum for healing and growth. I created this tool to help victims begin – or continue – the long journey toward healing and protection.
The truth and greater disclosure, from each of you, is part of that journey.
Please make an effort.
Patrick J Marker
320-309-XXXX <- Number changed to 360-421-5849 SNAP/Marker Press Release For immediate release: Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006