SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A Puerto Rican man who claims he was sexually abused by a priest affiliated with a Minnesota abbey filed a lawsuit Monday against his alleged abuser and the religious order that runs the abbey.
The anonymous plaintiff alleged he was abused around 1978, when he was 14, by the Rev. Francisco Schulte when the priest worked at San Antonio Abad, a boarding school in the southeastern city of Humacao operated by St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.
According to the lawsuit, the accuser “did not discover that he had been injured by the sexual contact” until last year, when he was interviewed by an investigator probing the priest’s past and was required to describe what had allegedly happened to him in an affidavit.
“After (he) completed the affidavit, in June 2010, (he) began to think about the sexual abuse by Fr. Schulte and the ways that these acts had injured him,” alleges the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico.
The complaint demands a trial by jury and a judgment against the defendants, including the abbey, of more than $75,000, plus lawyers fees and other costs.
Paul Richards, spokesman for the Minnesota abbey, wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit’s specifics but said the abbey takes issues of sexual misconduct very seriously.
“Over many years the abbey has worked to ensure that policies concerning human rights are enforced. Saint John’s policies are clear and longstanding: We do not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form,” Richards said in an e-mail.
The Order of St. Benedict operates the abbey in central Minnesota.
Schulte was the chaplain of the Minnesota school from 1977 to 1981 and the principal from 1979 to 1981, according to defense lawyer Patrick Noaker. Schulte now lives at St. John’s Abbey, Noaker said.
Besides his time in Puerto Rico, the lawsuit says Schulte also represented St. John’s in North Carolina, Mexico, the Bahamas and Rome.
Noaker said attorneys settled two cases involving Schulte a month ago but provided few specifics in an email.
Another defense attorney, Jeff Anderson, said in late March that nine men who filed lawsuits claiming sexual abuse at the hands of monks or priests have reached settlements with St. John’s Abbey.
The accused clergy all taught at St. John’s Preparatory School or were assigned to parishes, according to Anderson, who has filed thousands of lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests. All the alleged abuse cases occurred from the 1960s to 2004.
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