Archdiocese reveals names of priests accused of sexual misconduct [UPDATE]

Categories: Religion
Nienstedt.jpg
Archbishop John Nienstedt was the subject of our June 20, 2012, cover story.
-- Updated on last page with quotes from today's press conference --

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis today released the names of men who are suspected of sexual abuse between the mid 1950s and '80s, vowing to make the revelations a standard practice while withholding details of the allegations.

"This is a tragedy that has caused insufferable harm to victims, their families, parishioners and the Church," Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a statement. "I must say once again to all victims of this abuse: I am so sorry for the pain you have endured."

SEE ALSO: Archbishop John Nienstedt crusades against gay marriage

The archdiocese claims to have opened its own investigation with the assistance of an outside law firm and found that the allegations against 30 priests were credible:

Thomas Adamson
Active: 1958 - 1985
Current status: Permanently removed from ministry from our archdiocese

John Brown
Active: 1948 - 1990
Current status: Permanently removed from ministry

Cosmas Dahlheimer
Active: 1936 - 1978
Current status: Died in 2004

Gilbert DeSutter
Active: 1954 - 2003
Current status: Permanently removed from ministry

Gilbert Gustafson
Active: 1977 - 2002
Current status: Permanently removed from ministry

Louis Heitzer
Active: 1942 - 1967
Current status: Died in 1969

Rudolph Henrich
Active: 1933 - 1976
Current status: Died in 1992

Francis Hoefgen
Active: 1980 - 1994
Current status: Left order and laicized in 2012

Richard Jeub
Active: 1966 - 2002
Current status: Permanently removed from ministry

Dennis Kampa
Active: 1968 - 2002
Current status: Permanently removed from ministry

Robert Kapoun
Active: 1964 - 1998
Current status: Permanently removed from ministry

Jerome Kern
Active: 1967 - 2002
Current status: Permanently removed from ministry

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62 comments
Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Why is this organization still allowed to operate, or have a tax exempt status?


Unless and until they take better actions to comply with reporting sexual abuse crimes to the authorities -- the same laws that regulate teachers, doctors, nurses, etc.

In no other sphere of activity, for profit or non-profit, would this kind of illegality and harm to innocent and vulnerable people be tolerated, without additional regulation and oversight being imposed (and I don't mean their own, since they clearly cannot and will not self-police) and without additional requirements for things like liability insurance or bonds being posted to pay victims be demanded.

Niensted needs to go, and go now, and not to some cushy alternative position that effectively rewards his conduct. 

I realize that the church has their own judicial system, but it does not replace or supersede our civil one. Or we need to acknowledge that Christian Religious Law is a bigger threat than any hysterical nonsense about Sharia Law affecting our citizens.


bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

Asking why priests become rapists is like asking why Cajuns marry first cousins - it's just a part of their culture.  Not everyone does it; some think it's weird - but it's been going on for so long that it's become acceptable behavior.


This isn't just an isolated incident for them - it's a cultural norm.  And as long as their culture is allowed to remain intact, they will continue abusing children.

Brian Steidl
Brian Steidl

I think this goes back to the misguided thought that being a pedophile is something you can pray away or that being gay is a choice. But yeah the second half of that is you dont hide criminals.

Jessica Westendorp
Jessica Westendorp

Of course victims need to sing their tune as well. It's all part of the whole. Society will do as they do in response to horrific acts. I have my own pasts and own hurts and I am not unaware of personal violation. We can achieve great depth here, but that doesn't mean we need to be friends with our abusers or not hold people accountable. They ARE people, their actions are monstrous. I am not trying to protect nor justify anything, just bring more depth to the picture.

Jill Westendorp
Jill Westendorp

The former priest that Jessica and I know is part of the movement toward better transparency and accountability, as well as digging into the root causes of why sexual abuse is such a pervasive problem in the Catholic church. Christians believe in repentance and redemption. When people hurt other people, they need to be held accountable. But healing is possible.

Ralph Nix
Ralph Nix

People, especially women have been living under a paradigm of deceit for all these many centuries. Since women are the teachers of the family. Deceive their emotions and mankind is fooled by it all.

Ralph Nix
Ralph Nix

It all began back in Babylon-- it never changes.

Joel Holden
Joel Holden

@jessica, you'd be singing a different tune if that "ex-priest" you know molested your child...

Joel Holden
Joel Holden

Any one that molests a child is not a person, they are a monster. They do not deserve any recognition for what they've done after their horrible crime. What these "priests" have done is unforgivable. They have potentially and probably ruined lives.

Stefanie Megan Brown
Stefanie Megan Brown

Jessica Westendorp I would totally watch a documentary on this. The lessons here are never blindly turn your eyes and ears off to your kids with ANY authority or family besides yourself.....and dont let friends and family slip into secretive creepy religious cult dogma.....!

Del Bauer
Del Bauer

and if you cannot release the names of those people without court order.

Joe Strom
Joe Strom

Del is the moderator of this thread.

Del Bauer
Del Bauer

A Ramsey County Judge has ordered the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to reveal the names of 33 members of the clergy who abused children. Screw your seal of confessional.

Kathleen Mostrom Lehman
Kathleen Mostrom Lehman

How is it that an 80 year old school bus driver in Iowa gets sentenced to 50 YEARS in prison for molesting/abusing kids on his bus, but Catholic priests who have been molesting/abusing kids for DECADES are quietly relocated, kept on the payroll, and allowed to remain anonymous......despite their diocese knowlege of their despicable acts. Those 'in the know' should also be charged - with conspiracy and aiding and abetting, and whatever else can be hoisted upon them. Our children are our future, and most precious gifts. It's blasphemy, it's illegal, it's atrocious, and it's time the Catholic Church is broutht to IT's knees!

Jessica Westendorp
Jessica Westendorp

The priest I know who did time, it doesn't say on his profile here.

Robert Campbell
Robert Campbell

Scum.... Dirty Catholic Bastards! Should have their Balls cut off and shoved in their own Mouth, all in the name of God!

Del Bauer
Del Bauer

I see only one name on that list that's "done time". They should all have criminal charges against them and these abusers need to stop being protected by the church.

Edward McGourn
Edward McGourn

I didn't say it should, READ before you start your little tirades. If someone confesses to murder then a priest is not allowed to tell authorities, nor can a court of law compel the priest to give testimony THE SEAL OF CONFESSIONAL. so how can they give up these names? is the question.

funyon
funyon

Where are the Winona names do those people get a special pass? 

Jessica Westendorp
Jessica Westendorp

I know one of these ex-priests. He's done time and been in rehabilitation for years. He now works with other past abusers and past victims and their families. That should be mentioned here. There's a difference between an abuser who may continue to abuse and those who have been in recovery for years. Of course they need to be held accountable, and its good for people to know, but what if someone is working hard to rehabilitate and help others to do the same? Lets not jump to say they're scum. They're people too and teaching chastity and shame don't work.

Jeremiah Jazdzewski
Jeremiah Jazdzewski

I think, if your organization is such that you are able to create a list of people within it accused of sexual misconduct, you might want to take a look at the principals of the organization.

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

Religion is worthless, those who use it are weak

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Pedophilia is not a cultural norm.


The RC has some really screwed up notions about human sexuality, and they need to address the problems resulting from them, as well as the origins of those problems.

Pedophilia is an illness, in some cases a detectable physical illness in the form of a brain tumor:

(http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2943-brain-tumour-causes-uncontrollable-paedophilia.html#.UqIvY-KRJZM)

I'm not even remotely suggesting that all these pedophile or other aberrant sexual priests have brain tumors.  But rather that there is an enormous amount we still have to learn about the sexuality of our own species, and why some individuals act this way.

It is too complex and far too persistent a set of problem behaviors to alter or cure with talk therapy, much less prayer as a solution.  In other words, the belief the church has been holding that they could fix the problem with the solutions they've tried is highly unrealistic. 

At the same time, their profound lack of real caring about the victims, shown by their actions, makes a lie of the words from Nienstedt about how much they care about the pain of the victims.  If they really cared, they'd be open and above board about allegations and complaints, and they'd change how priests are allowed to operate.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Healing is less possible when you have this kind of obstruction of justice.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

What a stinking steaming load of codswallop.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Oh, heck - let's be honest here.  The church hid this to save having to pay court costs and damages to the victims, and to save face for their holier-than-thou dumbass positions on contraception and homosexuality and masturbation.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Not exactly a modern, enlightened, informed approach.

More like the torches and pitchfork response of a few hundred years back.

Hit the church where they really live - in their assets.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Good point.  I don't see these priests going through the judicial system, either civil or criminal.


And good grief -- what did these men do when they were no longer priests?  Just let loose back into society to prey on others who were unaware of the danger they presented.  That innocuous laicized or left the clergy --- reminds me of the Biblical equivalent of Pontious Pilate washing his hands, refusing to take appropriate responsibility for what happens next.

funyon
funyon

@Edward McGourn  yeah that is totally strange the church is telling the law what they will and will not do and not the other way around. 

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Coming sometime in the near future apparently.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Yes, but this is a kind of problem where recovery is frequently not long lasting.  And sadly, in too many instances where recovery fails, the same secrecy problem occurs.

I wish this ex-priest well, for his efforts at redemption from his crimes; but given the nature of the problem, I hope you will understand the skepticism about 'recovery'.  We don't understand enough about the problem to cure it, no matter how much a pedophile tries not to re-offend.


To really address this problem - and it is not unique to Catholic priests, there are plenty of non-clerical offenders too -- we should be investing more money in research both to understand the origins of the problem (and there could be multiple reasons or causes, like the common cold), and then to find better treatment for it.

We need healthier understanding of human sexuality in our society -- and the RC is the opposite of that, with their celibacy, their position on contraception, AIDS, abortion, sexual orientation, masturbation, the role of women in the church, etc.  They are, as an entity, pretty fucked up.

servantjmj
servantjmj

@Jeremiah Jazdzewski You can apply this to every organization and occupation out there - not just religious organizations.  (teachers, school bus drivers etc.)


servantjmj
servantjmj

@Jeremiah Jazdzewski You can apply this to every organization and occupation out there - not just religious organizations.  (teachers, school bus drivers etc.)

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

What a foolish oversimplification.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Dog Gone

You're wrong about it not being a cultural norm.  It IS a cultural norm - in the Catholic culture.


But you're right that pedophilia can't be cured.  It's like any other libertarian value - the problem is with the culture, not just the individual.

The only cure Is to destroy their culture.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

We have a solution to that - remove the tax exempt status of any religious entity that does not obey the law.

And let's underline that the RC is putting their authority and their canonical law above our civil and criminal law -- just like what the crazy radical right worries would happen with Sharia law (but doesn't).

We can and should also put the behinds of people like Nienstedt behind bars for obstruction of justice, regardless of being clergy. 

Unless we want to define clergy as being above the law?

They can retain their seal of the confessional all they want, in jail.  No reason to give them a free pass.

Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

Yes, that is true -- including other religious organizations.


But this religion has behaved far more obstructively than most of those other organizations, so there's a good argument to be made that those in authority are uniquely at fault here.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Dog Gone

That's quite a tantrum.  And you're right to assume that I won't take your request seriously.


If you want to defend or deny the problems with pedophilia and incest - you'll have to make your argument to someone else.


Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

What a load of B.S.


That - and your notions about Cajuns - sounds like a load of ugly prejudice without any factual foundation.

Do you have ANY science that supports your bizarre notions about 'culture' and Cajun marital patterns and/or pedophilia by authority figures such as priests?

I'm pretty confident you don't, but I'll be happy to keep an open mind if you can find a valid example of anything remotely scientific that supports your strange, ugly notions.


Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

I don't think that is true.  Most other religious groups don't have the unique international opportunities to move offending clergy around, nor have they been as resistant to cooperation with the authorities and victims.

There is the unique problems as well that appear to be associated with celibacy which seems a component of these problems, which again, is not equally a problem with other faiths.

If anything, I would argue that the RC keeps getting hit because their bad priests have been hidden, and then tend to come to the attention of the public in bunches rather than individually.  Respectfully, I think that is what you are seeing.

servantjmj
servantjmj

@Dog Gone

I agree, but I also think that the Catholic Church gets far more bad publicity, attention and focus than do others.


Dog Gone
Dog Gone topcommenter

You seem to ignore then, the obvious role of faith providing strength to remarkable individuals. 

One example, and I can think of many, would be Martin Luther King, Jr. in maintaining non-violence in the face of incredibly abusive violence to him and others, in addition to the worst possible provocations.

Or did you wish to include him and so many others who have relied on faith as weak?  Facts are not on your side, not even a little bit.

But hey - keep flailing along with your cray cray; it only underlines the failure of your opinion.

Pretty obvious, you have no facts to support your opinion.  That would tend to put you in the position of being a fool and weak for holding such an unsupported and ugly prejudice.

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