Jan 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm
WAITE PARK, Minn. (KNSI) - The St. Cloud Diocese and Bishop Donald Kettler has been given a message by a survivor of priest sexual abuse - release your list of 26 known offenders and protect your community.
A civil lawsuit by Robert Ethen against the Diocese was announced today at the Bradshaw and Bryant law offices in Waite Park. Ethen, a Sartell resident, spoke publicly about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Reverend James Thoennes in the mid 1960s.
"I'm a father, and a grandfather," Ethen said. "I don't want my grandchildren, or any child, to be subject to the things I went through. I believe that people have the right to know who's living next door. The fact that the church is hiding these criminals, and won't release their names...I just don't want another child to be hurt."
Ethen is represented by local attorney Mike Bryant and Jeff Anderson, an attorney from St. Paul who has represented many sexual abuse survivors. Anderson says the suit is not "adversarial" - it's to prompt the Diocese to do the right thing.
"The kids in this community are not safe," Anderson stressed. "The hazards are grave as long as this Diocese, and this Bishop, continue to keep these identities and histories of these offenders secret and unknown."
Anderson says Thoennes is still working at the St. Cloud Diocese as an archivist, and has been accused by multiple people in years past.
The lawsuit says the St. Cloud Diocese failed to let parishoners know that Thoennes had been accused of abuse.
Anderson has led the charge against dioceses in the state, and lists of names were released in December by the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese, Winona and Duluth dioceses, and by St. John’s Abbey following a court order.
Suits are also pending against the dioceses of New Ulm and Crookston.
St. Cloud is the last Diocese in the state to face civil action. In 2003, the Diocese of St. Cloud admitted there were 26 priests who worked within the diocese.
Anderson expects the estimated number of 26 credibly accused priests to rise following full disclosure.
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