Attorneys requesting list of priests accused of child abuse in Duluth Diocese

By KBJR News 1

Attorneys requesting list of priests accused of child abuse in Duluth Diocese

December 9, 2013 Updated Dec 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A lawsuit filed in Saint Louis County Monday is asking the Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth to publicly release the names and files of 17 priests accused of sexually abusing children.

This comes just days after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul released their list of 32 Twin cities priests facing abuse accusations.

The suit against the Diocese of Duluth, filed by one John Doe 28, claims the man was a victim of "unpermitted sexual contact" in the 70s, between the ages of 11 to 14 when he was an alter boy, by the deceased Father Robert Klein.

At the time, Father Klein was assigned to Saint Jean's Elementary School, and Sacred Heart Church, in Duluth.

"John Doe 28 was an alter boy at that time, and Klein took this child—as he did with a number of other children—to Brainerd," said Attorney Mike Finnegan, of Jeff Anderson and Associates, who is representing the plaintiff, "and abused him on the car ride to Brainerd, and at his mother's house in Brainerd."

The suit also alleges the diocese was made previously aware of abuse complaints against Klein, but continued to let him work with, and around, children.

Father Klein was sent to Milwaukee in the 60s for treatment "as a result of problems" that occurred during his work at parishes in Gnesen and Lakewood, Minnesota.

According to Finnegan, the Duluth diocese has been negligent in not releasing the names of the 17 accused priests.

"Every hour that passes that these names remain quiet, and the Bishop chooses to keep them quiet, puts kids at risk," said Finnegan.

Former abuse victim, and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Northeast Director, Verne Wagner, says releasing the names is a matter of Northland children's safety.

"If you're looking for a doctor you can go to a website and find out if that doctor has ever been in trouble. You can find that about a dentist... a nurse... a lawyer," said Wagner Monday, "but we can't find that out about a priest—the ones that are with our kids."

The Duluth Diocese has 20 days to issue a response to the summons.

According to Duluth Diocese Vicar General Father James Bissonette, the 17 priests have not been officially named by the diocese because the list is an "imperfect means for identifying those credibly accused."

A statement from the Diocese goes on to say that there are no priests with known accusations of sexual abuse of children currently in active ministry.

Posted to the web by Billy Wagness and Krista Burns