New release reveals alleged pedo-priest was moved around the state

Categories: Crime, Religion
Jeff Anderson & Associations / Flickr
The Rev. Thomas Adamson and a photo of the Cathedral of St. Paul dated 1964
The Diocese of Winona released the names of 14 priests Monday, adding to a growing list of suspected pedophiles throughout the state and confirming what some attorneys and clergy already knew: For decades the Rev. Thomas Adamson moved from parish to parish in the shadow of sexual abuse.

"It is a difficult time for the Church in the Diocese of Winona," reads a statement. "It is also a time of hope which presents an opportunity to heal and continue moving forward."

Adamson now appears on both lists produced by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona. According to a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County court, he molested more than 20 boys between 1964 and 1984, when he was finally suspended from the ministry.

SEE ALSO: Archbishop John Nienstedt apologies for priest sexual abuse, sort of

On one occasion, in the late 1960s, he allegedly asked two boys to disrobe. In 1974, he admitted to having touched another boy's genitals at a YMCA, according to the lawsuit. Police were never called.

Midway through his tenure, in 1975, he was dumped on the parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park (and later the Immaculate Conception Church in Columbia Heights). At the time, the lawsuit says, Winona Bishop Loras Watters told Archbishop John Roach that Adamson was being transferred because he needed counseling.

"Despite these clear indications of danger," attorneys wrote, "Archdiocese Officials took no steps to discover the specific nature of Adamson's problems or whether he was fit to work with children."

Adamson is 80 years old and reportedly living in Rochester. We've been unable to reach him independently and attempted to speak with him through the archdiocese. We also await a request to speak with church attorneys about several allegations laid out in the lawsuit involving Adamson.

Jim Keenan, a 46-year-old man who claims to have been abused by Adamson as a teenager, criticized church officials at a recent press conference for having taken this long to acknowledge the problem. For years church officials in Winona and St. Paul resisted calls to name names. A judge put an end to that last month.

"Try to put your hands behind the idea that someone has to force a religious organization to protect children," Keenan said. "That's crazy."

The Winona list comes one day after Archbishop John Nienstedt apologized to parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Church in Edina for not having done more to root out abusers. When he became archbishop in 2007, he said, he'd been told the dark dealings were a thing of the past.

Mike Finnegan, a St. Paul attorney representing several abuse victims, disagrees with Nienstedt's version of reality. As head honcho, Nienstedt was well aware of the complaints in recent years against John Shelly (child porn), Michael Keating (abuse) and Curtis Wehmeyer (child porn and abuse) and even delayed their expulsion from the ministry, Finnegan said.

"He failed to take any personal responsibility or even acknowledge the serious failures that he's made in handling child sex abuse," Finnegan added. "Until he does that, we haven't come close to a true accountability."

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