Diocese faces last child abuse lawsuit



Just before the three-year window for old child abuse allegations to be made under the Minnesota Child Victim Acts ended on May 25, a new lawsuit by an alleged victim of the former priest Thomas Adamson was filed against the diocese.

In 2013, the Minnesota Child Victims Act lifted the statute of limitations for civil child sexual abuse-related lawsuits for a period of three years. Victims who had been silent about past abuse came forward with a slew of lawsuits against the Diocese of Winona, the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and other Minnesota dioceses. Some victims spoke publicly about their experience.

Twin Cities attorney Patrick Noaker filed the last such lawsuit against the Diocese of Winona on May 23. The alleged victim claims that between 1969 and 1972, when he was in grade school and an altar boy at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Father Thomas Adamson sexually abused him on numerous occasions. Numerous victims have said they were sexually abused or raped by Adamson, and in previous cases, court documents showed that Adamson admitted to abusing children. By 1969, the diocese had already sent Adamson away for pedophilia treatment and knew or should have known Adamson was not safe to work with children, but allowed him to continue working with children, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuits claims mirror those of past Adamson cases. Diocese officials have said that in the 1960s and 1970s, far less was known about pedophilia and the Church believed at the time pedophiles could be reformed.

Diocese officials have said that until it is clear what monetary damages will be awarded to victims in the various cases against the diocese, they cannot rule out the possibility that the diocese would file for bankruptcy as a result.

The Diocese of Winona and the Roman Catholic Church across the U.S. went through reforms in the early 2000s in an effort to protect against child sexual abuse. Diocese staff and volunteers go through anti-sex abuse trainings and anti-abuse programs are provided for children in diocesan programs, as well.


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