Too Many Rumors, Too Few Answers

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Accused clergy remain at St. John’s Abbey, schools Abbot releases information to end ‘culture of secrecy’ that aids abuse

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — Thirteen to 15 monks or priests live and work under restrictions at St. John’s Abbey after being accused of or admitting to sexual abuse, the abbot for the monastery said.

The number represents about 7 percent of the 196 monks and priests affiliated with the monastery and nearby St. John’s University, a preparatory school and a religious press.

Restrictions vary for the men, but they include keeping them off college or prep school grounds and out of university athletic facilities.

Abbot John Klassen, who has led the monastery in central Minnesota for 17 months, said he has been reviewing abuse allegations and wants to “clear the decks.”

He didn’t offer a precise number of clergy who are restricted, in part because the types of cases vary. Klassen said the alleged victims were mostly boys ranging in age from 12 to 17, in incidents that took place in the 1970s.

. . . Klassen earlier sent a letter to St. John’s University officials and students revealing abuse allegations against a former abbot, the Rev. John Eidenschink.

Klassen said he sent the letter because he wanted to put an end to “a culture of secrecy that makes sexual abuse and exploitation possible.” He said the allegations had never been discussed, even within the monastery.

Eidenschink, who served as abbot from 1971-1979, was in poor health at the monastery and wasn’t available for comment.

Klassen has made public eight other names: Cosmos Dahlheimer, Richard Eckroth, Finian McDonald, Brennan Maiers, Dunstan Moorse, Allen Tarlton, Fran Hoefgen and John Kelly.

Each has had “credible allegations” levied against them, and — except for Dahlheimer and Eckroth — has acknowledged wrongdoing and sought treatment, Klassen said.

Brian Guimond still believes his son, Josh, was abducted and told reporters: “I’ve said from the beginning that he was grabbed. They haven’t done anything from day one and they still aren’t doing anything.”

“Did he stop out for some fresh air and get turned around and lost? It could be as simple as that,” said Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner.

Guimond’s family doesn’t believe it’s so simple. Lisa Cheney, Josh’s mother said: “I think somebody up there took him. I don’t know if it was somebody on that campus or what. But somebody on that campus knows and they aren’t telling.”

Josh Guimond has been missing for over a year.

Memory is a moral act.

Rohypnol

Could these young men have been drugged? Could someone at the party or bar have slipped something into their drinks? Rohypnol and similar “date rape” drugs are becoming common in clubs across the nation.

Too Many Rumors, Too Few Answers
May 01, 2004

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Topics: Allen Tarlton, Brennan Maiers, Cosmas Dahlheimer, Dunstan Moorse, Finian McDonald, Fran Hoefgen, John Eidenschink, John Kelly, John Klassen, Joshua Guimond, Richard Eckroth

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