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| Bradshaw & Bryant PLLC

This past couple of weeks we here at the St Cloud Blog have looked at the Second Year of the Child Victims Act.

The Minneapolis Tribune took time to look at the second anniversary to look at how it is going. The story was interesting for its overview, but there are areas that are worth looking at a little closer.

The headlines of the story were interesting. In the paper the headline was: Abuse law Triggers A Painful Awakening and in the internet version it was: Minnesota Child Victims Act continues to rock Catholic Church.   The law didn’t start things. The abuse that has been hidden for years is what created the firestorm. The hiding is what caused the need for the law.
The numbers are interesting. There have been 50 plus lawsuits and notices of claims statewide against 100 different priests. There also has been a significant increase in the  naming of disclosed pedophiles who were credibly accused. So far 180 Priest names have been made public by dioceses, archdiocese, and the St. John’s Abbey.  This is almost double since this time last year.

The suits have allowed for court involvement and increased disclosure. There have been lists disclosed by all 6 diocese. There have been individual files ( that were heavily redacted) disclosed by the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St Paul, and there have been depositions taken.  The Tribune has reported:

More than 60,000 pages, ranging from personnel files to psychological reports, have been released by the archdiocese and the Winona diocese, said Anderson. Every diocese’s website now lists contact information for abuse victims. Click on the archdiocese website, for example, and the box in the top corner states “Your First Call Should Be to Law Enforcement.”

In every disclosure, there have been ways to compare information and to get closer to what really happened.

The law has allowed for survivors to finally come forward. There have been those who have used their name and others who have used the Doe identification to finally come out of the dark. To finally be heard and to face those who hid and transferred these pedophiles out of tragic situations.

It will be interesting to look back when the cases are all done and to see if even the old law would have provided for these cases. An argument has always existed that fraud stayed the statute of limitation. That while the church has made self-serving statements such as:

from Archbishop John Nienstedt this past week “Our first priority is helping victims and survivors, and we are committed to doing that regardless of any statute of limitations,” he said. “The Archdiocese is committed to providing compensation and services in a fair and just manner to those who have been harmed, and making sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

Many of the documents that have been disclosed suggest otherwise. That it wasn’t a fair system where the church decided what to disclose and when to act. That there were active plans to hide and transfer. That they had no interest in doing anything but protecting the church.

There also has been the added complication of the  Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis bankruptcy.  This action suspended future lawsuits and trials that could have put priests, victims and archdiocese officials in the witness stand. Now survivors of archdiocese priests can not sue but can be a  part of a settlement. These survivors must act by  Aug. 3, 2015  which is 10 months earlier then the rest of the state.
There have been criminal claims looked at and now being pursued. At this time in Dakota County there is a trial going on against Francis Hoefgen, a former St. John’s Abbey monk now living in Columbia Heights, for allegedly abusing a boy from 1989 to 1992. His arrest followed the victim’s lawsuit filed last year. A Hibbing priest was arrested and jailed for sexual misconduct with three girls.  One priest on the Crookston Diocese list, the Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul, was extradited from India and pleaded guilty to criminal sexual misconduct last Friday. That same day, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis removed a priest from active ministry in Richfield.
There have also been claims made against schools and organizations that do not involve the Catholic  church. Individuals who were abused have had the chance to ask if something could be done as they have had to survive attacks from family, friends, neighbors, nuns, coaches, or teachers.
Survivors have finally gotten a chance to see justice.  Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, the chief Senate author of the law described the past two years as “What you’re seeing is a cascading of justice. We already knew there were a lot of cases out there that just hadn’t surfaced yet, because of the statute of limitations in effect. We didn’t appreciate how many cases there were, and how many people would step forward.”
Abuse of children and the continued silence by the offenders needs to be prevented. If you suffered, saw, or suspected such events, it is important to know that there is help out there.

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