MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – A former Catholic priest and monk was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting an altar boy in Hastings from 1989 to 1991, just years after he allegedly abused a teenager in central Minnesota and was sent to a clinic for treatment.
Francis Hoefgen, 63, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim under age 13. Prosecutors say he abused the altar boy at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish on several occasions starting in the spring of 1989, when the boy was just 9 or 10 years old.
The abuse continued until the fall of 1991, when the boy was 12, the complaint said.
Hoefgen’s attorney, Andy Small, declined to comment.
The complaint says the alleged victim, now an adult, went to authorities in November, claiming Hoefgen abused him as a child.
“It’s not surprising that the victim in this case waited over 20 years to report it to the police department,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. “They often have feelings of guilt, humiliation, shame and confusion.”
The same man also sued Hoefgen and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, alleging it should have known Hoefgen was a danger because he admitted to abuse years earlier.
The lawsuit says Hoefgen became a Benedictine monk at St. John’s Abbey in 1973 and was ordained a priest in 1979. He served at St. Boniface in Cold Spring from 1979 to March 1984.
According to a signed police statement, Hoefgen admitted on March 19, 1984, that he had performed oral sex on a teenager on two occasions in the living room of St. Boniface rectory in 1983. Charges were never filed in that case, but after the admission, Hoefgen was sent to St. Luke Institute, a treatment center in Maryland, for six months.
He was returned to active ministry and sent to Hastings in 1985.
According to the criminal charges, Hoefgen worked at St. Boniface in Hastings, where the alleged victim attended school and was an altar boy. In 1987, St. Boniface and Guardian Angles merged to become St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish.
The criminal complaint says Hoefgen remained a priest in Hastings until October 1992.
St. John’s Abbey removed Hoefgen from ministry in 1992 and he is no longer a monk. The archdiocese has said Hoefgen was laicized in December 2011.
Hoefgen turned himself into police.
Backstrom said he hopes this case encourages other victims of abuse to come forward and he pledged to do whatever he can to ensure justice is served and these crimes are held accountable.
“My hope is that we are going to be able to obtain a measure of justice to him after all these years to help him heal from the trauma that was inflicted on him,” he said.
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