Father Gerald Funcheon and the Croisers at Center of New "Public Nuisance" Lawsuits

Gerald Funcheon doesn't know how many children he sexually abused as a priest. Maybe 12, he responded two years ago in a taped deposition. Maybe 18. "I can't give you an answer on this. Okay?"

However, internal church documents released Thursday by attorney Jeff Anderson show the number of abused children may actually be as high as 50. Five of them have filed "public nuisance" lawsuits against Funcheon and the Croisers religious order, which ordained the man in 1965 and spent decades moving him across the country.

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For five years, Funcheon held assignments in Minnesota, and there are at least three allegations to come out of his time at St. Odilia's Church in Shoreview in the early 1970s. One of those allegations arose in 2002 and led to a settlement, which was paid in part by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. (He also served at St. Stephen's Parish in Anoka and Cathedral High School in St. Cloud.)

There were warning signs along the way -- in fact, from the very beginning. Funcheon's earliest evaluation in our possession describes him this way: "Almost his sole interest is young boys. Not much of a student. Rather quiet with men of his own age. Often wants his way."

The priest began seeing a psychologist in the 1980s and by 2003 was confined to a St. Louis-area facility for troubled clergy.

"I didn't identify it as sexual attraction," Funcheon once testified about the boys with whom he showered or touched, ranging from 10 to 16 years old. "I didn't see it as something with either perversion or abnormality."

Later in the same deposition, Anderson, the attorney, asked whether any of Funcheon's superiors had ever asked for a complete list of children he abused and how he abused them. Funcheon responded, "No. I don't think so."

But he was "deeply repentant," writing to Archbishop John Nienstedt in Feb. 2014, "for the serious harm I have done to victims both of your diocese and elsewhere."

Anderson and survivors are holding a press conference this morning to pressure the Croisers into releasing the files of its credibly accused priests, some of whom served in Minnesota.

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