St. John's Abbey in Collegeville has settled lawsuits filed by nine men who say they suffered sexual abuse at the hands of some of the order's monks and priests since the 1960s.
St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson announced the settlements, without detailing the dollar amount of the settlement. But part of the agreement means that the identities of 17 members of the abbey have been made public for the first time.[jump]
None of the alleged abusers has ever been criminally charged. Some are dead. None work anymore at St. John's Prep, where some of the abuse allegedly took place over the past 50 years.
In the settlement, the order agrees to take a number of steps aimed at admitting the abuse, revealing the identities of predator priests, and protecting against abuse in the future.
A. Website - The Order of Saint Benedict will more prominently display sexual abuse information and the website will be structured to provide a place to post a mutually agreeable letter describing this settlement and survivors' stories. B. Safety Violations - The Order of Saint Benedict will continue to bring safety violations with minors to the attention of the External Review Board for their Review.
C. Confidentiality Agreements - The Order of Saint Benedict herewith abrogates any confidentiality agreements that might exist in settlements it has entered in to subject to the right of the other settling parly(ies) to maintain that confidentiality agreement if he, she or they desire to do so and agrees to post this on the Abbey's website.
D. Abbey Policy on Sexual Abuse and Exploitation and Questionnaire. The Order of Saint Benedict will institute a policy of requiring all members of the Abbey working on outside assignments or with minors or in an Abbey leadership position to sign an Acknowledgement of Receipt of the Abbey Policy on Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation and a Background Questionnaire Concerning Sexual Abuse.
E. Public Statement of Misconduct - If allegations against a monk who is or has serviced in a parish are found to be credible, a prepared statement will be read at all the Sunday masses if approved by the Diocese in which the parish is located. If the allegation involves an incident that took place in a parish, a parish meeting for the parishioners will be held if approved by the Diocese in which the parish is located. The meeting should be limited to parishioners. Along with the pastor who chairs the meeting's the Abbot, a representative of the diocese, and the sexual abuse victim's advocates should be present.
In letter to members of the St. John's community, Abbott John Classen and survivor representatives identify a number of monks against whom there are credible allegations of abuse.
- Brother Andre Bennett
- Brother Isaac Connolly
- Rev. Richard Eckroth
- Rev. Thomas Gillespie
- Brother John Kelly
- Rev. Brennan Maiers
- Rev. Dunstan Moorse
- Rev. Francisco Schulte
- Rev. Bruce Wollmering
- Rev. Michael Bik
- Rev. Cosmas Dahlheimer
- Abbot John Eidenschink
- Rev. Fran Hoefgen
- Brother Steve Lilly
- Rev. Finian McDonald
- Brother Jim Phillips
- Rev. Allen Tarlton
One of the victims, 55-year-old Jeramiah "Jerry" McCarthy, stood with Anderson at the press conference. He told reporters that Rev. Bruce Wollmering had "attacked" him in his room 35 years ago. He said the money from the settlement meant far less to him than hearing the abbey take responsibility for what happened, and promise to protect other children from predator priests in the future.