The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has added 17 names to its list of credibly accused priests as part of a settlement agreement with Jeff Anderson's law firm. Nine priests allegedly abused minors within the archdiocese and eight allegedly abused minors outside the archdiocese, but held assignments here.
The list has also been updated to include three men whose alleged crimes had previously been considered unsubstantiated. It's not immediately clear why the status of these claims was elevated, but give it time. Some, if not all, of the files are expected to be made public in the coming weeks and months.
Seven of the 17 are still alive, according to the archdiocese, though we couldn't reach any of them for comment. Most remain in Minnesota, but two reside on the coasts.
For Bob Schwiderski, the addition of Father William Marks to this list is 52 years in the making. He says he was abused a hundred times as an altar boy in Hector, and church officials responded by transferring Marks to another parish in Green Valley.
Schwiderski is working on his own list of credibly accused clerics -- which includes several Christian denominations -- and says Thursday's disclosure, plus another one made by Winona two weeks ago, has added 94 previously unknown locations of suspected abuse to his list. Knowing where these clerics have traveled could open the door to more stories of abuse. It's possible there are still people out there who haven't come forward.
"Now they can say, 'Well, they finally got that son of a bitch identified,'" Schwiderski tells us. He's been an anchor for survivors across the state and claims to have gotten a call this morning from Archbishop John Nienstedt, alerting him that Marks was finally making it to the list.
Sounds like a classy move, but the archbishop has bigger problems to worry about if he intends to salvage what's left of his reputation. Madeleine Baran of MPR reported Thursday that Nienstedt may have given a false statement under oath about Father Gilbert Gustafson, a convicted criminal. The archbishop testified on April 2 that he had only recently learned of Gustafson's prosecution. However, a letter Nienstedt wrote to a parishioner in 2008 suggests otherwise.