Hundreds of boys were abused at a Minnesota Catholic school
Catholic priest Finian McDonald, above, is one of five priests at a Minnesota school who were exposed as this week as predatory child abusers.
McDonald confessed in a 2012 psychiatric session that he molested more than 200 boys, 18 of whom were children under his care in the dormitories of St John’s Preparatory School, a private boys’ school run by the monks in Collegeville.
Her admitted that he drank heavily and freely preyed on students during his years as a dormitory prefect.
According to this report, personnel records made public on Tuesday revealed that Catholic priests at St John’s Abbey in Collegeville engaged in a sustained and coordinated campaign of child rape, which they took pains to keep secret from the public for decades.
A court case brought by one of the priests’ former victims resulted in a judge’s order for the monastery to release records on all priests and monks credibly accused of child abuse.
The documents released regarding five abusive priests mark the first time the monastery has opened its records to the public after being embroiled in abuse lawsuits for more than 20 years. The files include psychiatric assessments of the five men, records of abuse allegations and the abbey’s responses dating back from the 1960s to the last few years.
The abbey released a written statement in an effort to minimize the damning reports. Brother Aelred Senna wrote:
There are documents in each file which may be quoted and framed in a lurid context. But the huge majority of the documents in each of these files acknowledges the very real failures of some monks while showing each of the accused monks as a fallible, relatable person.
Senna claims that the abbey made no attempt to cover up abuse allegations when they were brought to church leaders’ attention.
However, victim Troy Bramlage’s attorney Jeff Anderson said in a press conference that the documents show a clear pattern of systematic abuse with no serious efforts made to protect the children in the monks’ care.
So many offenders were allowed access to so many kids for so many years. This reflects to us…that there are dozens and hundreds of survivors that are yet to be known.
Four other predator priests were profiled in the documents: Rev Tom Gillespie, former priest Fran Hoefgen, the Rev Bruce Wollmering and the Rev Richard Eckroth. Wollmering and Eckroth are deceased.
Hoefgen was acquitted of sexually harassing a teen boy earlier this year, but the newly released records show that he exhibited a pattern of predatory behavior toward boys, beginning in the 1980s and continuing through the next two decades.
Rather than alert authorities and dismiss Hoefgen, however, the abbey presented him with $30,000 to help him “transition out of the priesthood”.
The documents show that the abbey moved priests from parish to parish when abuse allegations where levied against them, covering up the problem and keeping secrets within their own ranks. There are 14 more priests associated with the abbey whose records have yet to be produced.
Troy Bramlage, the abuse survivor whose lawsuit spurred the release of the documents told reporters that he hopes more victims will come forward as the priests’ records go public.
People need to know they don’t have to suffer alone.
Hat tip: Peter Sykes