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.

Click on the links below for more information.
Abuse Settlement: St. John’s Letter
Abuse Settlement: Abbey Actions
Abuse Settlement: Photos of Accused

(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.)

  • Victim Du Jour

    DFL Public School Teachers are in the news more frequently than Priests.

    And DFLers were passing the Trash during the 70’s and 80’s too.

  • T

    Why are these men not arrested, thrown in jail, or labeled as registered sex offenders? WCCO may have their next “Good Question” story all laid out…

    • A

      It’s the catholic church… stuff like this gets covered up and the public rarely hears about it.

      • Gabe

        How f-ing true.

  • Victim Du Jour

    Prove it! There have been more DFL Public School teachers convicted in the past few years than the Entire History of the Catholic Church in the State of Minnesota.

    And the DFL has put lawsuit caps on Public Schools. I think they capped them at $300,000 per victim.

  • Victim Du Jour

    Nazis did the same

    • Mike

      Yes, we know, the Nazis and the catholic church were partners too.

    • Greg Brand

      I grew up attending Catholic church and 12 years of Catholic education. No priest ever touched me. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the priesthood. The one who truly are not meant for the vocation should be prosecuted, not the entire church. If a teacher rapes a student, is the entire education system prosecuted? No one would even consider it. Just a bit too much hypocrisy, I believe.

  • K.

    That’s pretty harsh! You know, only about 1.7% of pedophile cases were against Catholic priests whereas 10% were cases of Protestant ministers. The only reason you hear about the priests is because the Catholic church is so big and it’s a better, juicier story, unfortunately.

    • Timothy

      Agree with that comment. It is a seriously painful situation, and these men have betrayed their own brothers as much as the vitims. A graduate of these schools was educated there and saved my life, (he is a very fine MD), and certainly the atmosphere there contributed to his commitment to his patients which he showed in my case. He was always thinking, many tiimes “outside the box”, which helped in my unusual case. To condemn the whole system because of a few is not fair.

  • Mary Pat Lynch Ruff

    2 of which were teachers at Benilde St Margarets in the the 1980’s.


    Because the Catholic Church as more money to pay off officials than all the DFLer’s together

    • Victim Du Jour

      Gay Rights people get their political favors from the largest sex abuse institution in Minnesota.

      “the Minnesota Department of Education”

  • Greg Brand

    I grew up attending Catholic church and 12 years of Catholic education. I also served Mass in my elementary years and at no time did any priest ever touch me or make me uncomfortable. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the men who answer the call and serve in that vocation. While I believe that the men who are accused should be prosecuted, I don’t agree blaming the entire Church. If a teacher was accused of raping a student, would the entire education system chastised? No one would even consider it.

    • Mike

      Give me a break buddy. Your church is as corrupt as the mafia!
      You need to take off your rose colored glasses and realize your
      lack of accountability for the actions of your church make you a
      large part of the problem. Bless that………

    • Winston

      Thats not the pt. It was IGNORANCE that we (non-abusers/supporters of VICTIMS) are focusing on. It was IGNORANCE of the 40 some years that handicapped victims of ppl by offenders like Mcgurie and the ‘backup’ he had for decades. the church REFUSED to acknowledge in order to keep faith in God. I am a believer and follow of our Lord, Jesus Christ. but I don’t need a church or ‘church men’ to strengthen my love and belief in God. When i attend church, it is for GOD. When I hear this disgusting disgrace using God’s name, I am angered that respected men will lose their support b/c of sick ambitious of men N women-whether it be to absorb the glory of God or personal sick pleasure. Nasty. Just Nasty. Im glad this has come worldwide so growing adults will be aware and cautious. Thank goodness you were not a victim, otherwise, you’d prob be saying a different comment. :)

      • Marv Zastrow

        Round up the archbishop and grill his ass.

    • Mike Ryan

      Greg: I have a similar background but a do reluctantly blame the Church. What kind of a man is willing to make a commitment to a celibate life at a moment in his mid twenties that will last a lifetime? That requirement by the Church is unreasonable and greatly diminishes the pool of highly qualified priests. We end up with many odd priests. We also attract an extremely disproportionate number of gay clergy. Most of these gay priests have the best intentions in the world but the mind is willing but their flesh is week. Seventeen priests at St. John’s alone and that’s only the one’s they have caught so far. My associate pastor in grade school was kicked out of the priesthood for sex abuse. So was the coach. My pastor in Germany molested alter boys. I have had three kids go to St. John’s-St. Ben’s. All have now left the Church. Dan’s associate pastor at St. Hubert’s can’t touch anyone and is odd to say the least. His pastor exposed himself in a sting is St. Paul and resigned last month. I have seven of the most wonderful kids God put on earth. I raised them all Catholic to the hilt. All are active christians but all have left the Catholic Church. Sad. Mike Ryan

      • al

        Mike. I am so glad to hear this. You just layed out every reason why the catholic church is such a problem. What I don’t understand is why hundreds of thousands of other people don’t open up their eyes, see what you did, and act the same way that you did.

  • TC

    Just publicize the names of the priests/teachers/clergy/parents who commit sexual abuse. The issue with the Catholic Church has been the systematic hiding of sex offenders. This secrecy is an institution’s attempt to avoid criminal prosecution of one of its members while leaving the other members at risk. This continued denial of wrongdoing also keeps the victims from healing, leaving them with painful memories and no one accountable.

  • Victim Du Jour

    You can probably file the same lawsuits on bands that performed at Woodstock, and many Holywood corporations who employed people like Roman Polanski or Micheal Jackson.

    Human Trafficking of young girls was a problem in San Francisco during the summer of love.

    Priests are just being used as a scapegoat, like they were the only ones who are suppose to have sex abuse policies during the 60’s and 70’s.

    Public Schools didn’t punish teachers back then either.

  • CL

    I don’t know if this is the link you were looking for, but you can go to the website BehindThePineCurtain. It is eye opening.

  • Stop protecting these criminals

    Why are there only 8 of the offenders pictures? give them all the publicity they deserve. My Dad was instrumental in getting a sex offender priest out of our school/ and neighboring parish after the priest offended several young boys. The community was not aware of his previous offenses of sexual abuse until after it was too late. The Priest was kicked out of the previous church due to sexual abuse!! So where did the diosesce send him?? To a position where he was assigned to be a religion teacher at a 1-8 grade school. He immedioately sucked up to the prominant people of the parish and got in tight with them. My Dad, and a few other men, from a neighboring parish who also sent their kids to school at the next town where this priest was, were courageous enough to step up and protect the kids and get this old sex offender SOB out of town. Unfortunately he got to many of our boys at school and he did a lot of damage which had a trickle down affect to many other young people in the community.
    I do know a few wonderful priests and do not hold the churches disicion to protect these horrible offenders against the good men who have stepped up to fill the roll of priest. I pray the people affected by the sick ones have the strength to look to God for healing. God does not want this abuse to happen. Please talk about it to those you love and trust so you can heal and know it was not your fault. Speak out against it so it stops.

  • Bubba

    Anderson should fall on a sharp knife.

    • Mike

      You should stop promoting your corrupt church. Your advocacy
      makes you a big part of the problem.

  • MN

    Victim Du Jour:
    why don’t you work??

    • sally

      Really Victim Du Jour
      where if you do work ? cause i want to call your employer and tell them you sign more of these on more subjects than anyone. AND your wrong most of the time, try reading and listening cause you can learn stuff while reading and you have one mouth and 2 ears which I doubt you ever use…

  • J

    What happened at St. John’s University is a microcosm of a larger problem with the Catholic Church. For centuries…no, millennia… priests accused of sexual abuse have been protected from prosecution by their superiors and have been passed around from parish to parish, diocese to diocese, and interstate as well. This is the only way that bishops, abbotts, etc knew how to deal with the problem. The Church authorities also had the arrogant idea that somehow they were above the ‘laws of men’. They still do to this day. NEWS FLASH: THE ORDER OF SAINT BENEDICT IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW. I have been a Catholic for all of my 49 years, but as of today I am voting with my feet and leaving the Church once and for all. I cannot support a Church that shelters criminal sex offenders and uses my parish support money to help them do it, or uses it to pay off the victims. These perpetrators could not have continued with their abuses if not for the systemic culture that has long supported the abuse through actions or inactions of fellow priests, monks, bishops, abbotts, archbishops and all other clerical superiors. So long, Catholics. Anyone care to join me?

  • CM

    How can people look the other way and in doing so, support these very disturbed individuals? Does SJU really believe God wants us to support this sick abuse? Why does SJU protect them? I believe if you stand with them, you are one of them. Wake up!!! Stand up to this twisted university!!! I hope the enrollment at SJU decreases to the point that they “get the point.”

    • al

      I’m anxious to see if tuition goes up to pay for these crimes. How wrong would you feel if you knew that some of your tuition was going to pay for these people…

  • Jared

    There are many choices available to those in need of legal help. The choice you make will certainly affect your case. When choosing an attorney in Minnesota, make sure they are committed to representing individuals who need legal help and that they do so in a vigorous yet highly ethical manner.

  • 75% of people are stupid

    Man, some of you people that post on here are really dumb. Read the article…..the statute of limitations has expired. Beyond that they are only accused of these things, not tried. So what some of you are saying is that I can accuse anyone of doing something and they should thrown in jail or be registered as a sex offender??? The age that the accuser said he was when some of this allegedly happen was 17. Hmmmm, dang near legally an adult, how about TELL SOMEONE at the time it happened and stop all this from happening again. I can see a child under the age of 4 not knowing any better but 17. I am all for locking someone up that has sexually abuse anyone, hell I’d like to see worse than that. Really, a 17 year old can’t reach out to someone or know better than to say something to even local law enforcement? Even if you think friends or family won’t believe you local police will still look into it……you just have to have a voice……and grow a pair. This gives a bad name to a lot of good people, I hope they get the facts straight.

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