Francis Hoefgen, former priest, charged with criminal sexual conduct in Dakota County

Categories: Crime, Religion
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Francis Hoefgen and the old St. Boniface in Hastings that merged with Guardian Angels to become St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Authorities in Dakota County have charged Francis Hoefgen, a 63-year-old former Benedictine priest who served the Twin Cities region, with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.

At a press conference later today, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom and Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer are expected to shed more light on the charges.

See also: Francis Hoefgen: Portrait of an abusive priest

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Jeff Anderson sues St. John's Abbey, releases files of five accused monks

Categories: Crime, Religion
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From left, attorney Mike Bryant, Lloyd Van Vleet, attorney Jeff Anderson, and priest-turned-whistleblower Patrick Wall
Father Richard Eckroth sexually abused two boys at a northern Minnesota cabin in the 1970s, according to a lawsuit filed Monday against St. John's Abbey.

At a press conference, crusading attorney Jeff Anderson pointed the finger squarely at the abbey for giving Eckroth unlimited access to children as young as eight on weekend trips and for failing to tell families about the danger.

See also:
Kevin McDonough, former vicar general, refused to cooperate with police investigations



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Kevin McDonough, former vicar general, refused to cooperate with police investigations [VIDEO]

Categories: Crime, Religion
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YouTube screen grab
In video testimony released Thursday by Jeff Anderson's law firm, the former vicar general of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis admitted that he made a habit of penning official memos with an eye towards possible litigation, and when approached last year by St. Paul police refused to cooperate.

As the lone referee of priestly sex crimes for two decades -- a tenure that spanned three archbishops -- Kevin McDonough now expresses regret for a culture that believed sick men could be rehabilitated back into ministry. He shifted responsibility to his bosses and accused victims' attorney Jeff Anderson and the media of exaggerating the problem of clerical abuse.

See also:
How Patrick Wall became the Catholic church's worst nightmare


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Archbishop John Nienstedt withheld info on sexually abusive priests [VIDEO]

Categories: Crime, Religion
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YouTube screen grab
The law firm that is aggressively suing the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released on Tuesday the four-hour deposition of head holy man John Nienstedt. The archbishop admitted under oath that he has withheld information about sexually abusive priests, putting the blame on one of his underlings.

"The methods they have employed in the past are being employed in the present," attorney Jeff Anderson told reporters in his office. "We're alarmed. We're sad. And we're scared, the more we learn, the more we see."

See also:
How Patrick Wall became the Catholic church's worst nightmare



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Victor Barnard sex cult charges: Most bizarre allegations

Categories: Crime, Religion, Sex
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Screengrab via Fox 9
An undated photo of Barnard with his "Maidens."
On April 11, Victor Barnard, leader of a Christian religious sect called the River Road Fellowship, was charged with 59 felony counts of criminal sexual conduct in Pine County for allegedly forcing two young girls to regularly have sex with him between 2000 and 2009.

The lengthy criminal complaint makes for horrifyingly fascinating reading. It lays out how Barnard, who is currently the subject of a nationwide manhunt, separated the girls from their families, used religion to persuade them to enter sexual relationships with him, and then manipulated them into staying at "Shepherd's Camp" in Finlayson, Minnesota, even after they expressed a desire to leave.

We highlight the most bizarre allegations from the complaint below the jump.

See also:
Rev. Keating sex scandal: Read creepy emails 44-year-old seminary student sent girl, 14


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Kevin McDonough, former vicar general, questioned about handling of sex abuse cases

Categories: Crime, Religion
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Artwork by Martin Ontiveros
Attorney Jeff Anderson questioned a second top official of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Wednesday and again walked away complaining that he'd been cheated out of time.

Father Kevin McDonough, a former vicar general, was supposed to undergo eight hours of court-ordered testimony in preparation for a civil sex abuse trial, but Anderson claims he only got six and a half.

See also:
Attorney: Archbishop John Nienstedt walked out of deposition before completed



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Attorney: Archbishop John Nienstedt walked out of deposition before completed

Categories: Crime, Religion
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Artwork by Martin Ontiveros for our March 19 cover story
The law firm of Jeff Anderson deposed Archbishop John Nienstedt on Wednesday, marking the first time the head holy man has been forced to answer questions about sexual abuse allegations during his six-year reign over the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Anderson's firm is tight-lipped about what was discussed during a four-hour window allotted by the court, but was bothered -- if not surprised -- by what it considers to be attempts by Nienstedt's attorneys to subvert the interrogation. Although his time had ended, Nienstedt apparently walked out of the room when pressed about whether he would turn over all the information he possessed on abusive priests to local cops and prosecutors.

See also:
How Patrick Wall became the Catholic church's worst nightmare



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The Diocese of New Ulm is suing other churches

Categories: Crime, Religion
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Wikimedia
The Church of St. Thomas in the Diocese of New Ulm
A Catholic diocese in Minnesota is suing both a diocese in Ireland and a controversial religious order, shifting responsibility for a dead priest who allegedly abused several children.

A lawsuit filed in February by the Diocese of New Ulm claims it never would have brought that priest into a Granite Falls parish in the 1980s had it known the truth of his past, according to a report by MPR and KARE-11.

See also:
Francis Hoefgen: Portrait of an abusive priest



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Archbishop John Nienstedt compelled to testify about handling of sexual abuse claims

Categories: Crime, Religion
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Archbishop John Nienstedt
On Tuesday, a Ramsey County judge ordered Archbishop John Nienstedt and former Vicar General Kevin McDonough to testify under oath about how they handled allegations of sexual abuse by local priests.

In a rare move, Judge John Van de North also ruled that attorneys for an alleged victim, led by Jeff Anderson, could review previously unreleased internal documents from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis related to sexual abuse claims.

"It's a very important decision for the survivor and for the idea all survivors deserve justice," said Mike Finnegan, who works for Anderson's firm. Nienstedt and McDonough "are going to have to answer those tough questions that they've evaded for years."

SEE ALSO: St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith: Archdiocese has been uncooperative with investigations

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Humanist group threatens to sue Robbinsdale schools over student trips to church

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Image via Calvary Lutheran Church's Facebook page
Robbinsdale schools is being accused of violating the Establishment Clause by sending students to this church.
-- Update at bottom --

The D.C.-based American Humanist Association is threatening to sue Robbinsdale Area Schools and the district's engineering and arts magnet school over field trips students have taken to the Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley the last two academic years.

SEE ALSO: Hudson school apologizes for making students watch clip of celebs pledging loyalty to Obama

A letter sent yesterday to the district's executive director of academics and the School of Engineering and Arts' principal accuses administrators of dismissing a parent's objection to the trips, which involve students putting together "manna" packages to feed hungry people.

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