Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2 more men claim abuse by St. Paul priest

2 more men claim abuse by St. Paul priest
Archdiocese denies that it covered up reports about misbehavior.


Last update: June 29, 2010 - 7:41 PM
Two more men alleging that they were sexually abused by a Twin Cities priest filed suits against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Tuesday, claiming that the church endangered them by concealing reports about the priest's behavior.

BACKGROUND: St. Paul lawyer Patrick Noaker, part of the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates that specializes in abuse cases, filed the suits on behalf of two Minnesotans who contacted him after he filed suits for four other alleged victims in March. All the suits concern the Rev. Thomas Stitts and charge that the archdiocese knew of abuse complaints against him in the late 1960s and early '70s but did nothing to prevent further violations. Stitts died in 1985.

REBUTTAL: The archdiocese denied "the allegations of misrepresentation and fraud," as it also did with the earlier suits.

SPECIFICS: The men filing the new suits did so anonymously. The abuse charges date from 1967 to 1973 when the victims were 9 to 11 years old.

One alleges that he was molested by Stitts at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Hastings, where Stitts served from 1966 to 1970. According to Noaker, the victim reported the abuse to church officials but "was coerced into keeping quiet. As a result, he was again sexually abused by Stitts on at least one additional occasion."

In 1970, Stitts transferred for three months to Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul and then moved to the Church of St. Leo's in St. Paul, where the second victim alleges his molestation occurred.

"The sexual abuse at St. Leo's could have been and should have been avoided," Noaker said. The four suits filed in March all concern Stitts' tenure at St. Leo's.

FALLOUT: Noaker said the new cases "add to the growing mountain of evidence that this archdiocese has not been honest with this community." He also said that "witnesses and other survivors" of Stitts have come forward, and that some of them will be filing suits, too. He would not say how many more there might be.

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