Attorney: St. John’s Sex Abuse Suits Settled
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Every alumnus of St. John’s University in Collegeville will soon be getting a letter from the school. The letter names 17 priests and monks who the Abbey has identified as having credible allegations of sexual abuse brought against them.
The letter was part of a settlement announced Monday between St. John’s and nine victims, who say they were abused from 1960 to 2000.
The settlement does involve an undisclosed amount of money going to the victims. However, the victims’ attorney said this is not about the money; it’s about getting the word out about the 17 men accused and getting other victims to come forward.
Jerry McCarthy, 55, was 17 years old and a student at St. John’s prep — the boarding school that is on St. John’s campus — when he was assigned to get counseling from the school psychologist, Father Bruce Wollmering.
“It was actually on the third meeting I had with Father Wollmering — where he gave me his counseling and testing — that he actually attacked me in his office,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy says he told no one until a year and a half ago when he read Wollmering’s obituary. He says the attack lead him to drop out of school and battle a drug and alcohol addiction, which lasted 17 years.
“When it happened, I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I didn’t want to tell anybody. I didn’t tell my brothers. I didn’t tell my friends. I was ashamed,” he said.
Of the 17 abusers, four have died and three are no longer at the Abbey, according to the letter. However, 10 still remain on campus and live under what St. Johns says are “constraints of a safety plan and supervision.”
Jeff Anderson, the attorney for the victims, said, “this is about two things: the courage of the survivors and systemic cover-up.”
Anderson distributed a draft of the letter to reporters Monday. Anderson said he expects Abbot John Klassen, who heads the monastery, to sign the letter according to the terms of the settlement.
Anderson has filed thousands of lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests. He calls the settlement “another step forward to protecting others and requiring St. John’s to come clean and transparent with the crimes of the past so those don’t occur in the future.”
Anderson says the supervision of the survivors on the list is lax and is concerned they remain fee to molest again. McCarthy agrees.
“I don’t even know why they are still in the monastery,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know why they put up brick walls and protect these people. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want them out of the monastery.”
None of the 17 men accused faced criminal charges, and the statute of limitations has long since expired.
WCCO-TV reached out to both the Abbey and St. John’s University to ask them for a comment and to find out when the letter is going to be sent out to all alumni, but have not heard back.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)