MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A list of former priests accused of sexually abusing children while they worked in the Diocese of New Ulm has been released.
Tuesday morning, survivors encouraged other victims who may be out there to come forward.
The list, released for the first time, includes the names of 16 men accused of sexually abusing children when they served as priests. Out of that number, only three are still alive.
Attorneys say disclosing their names is an important part of the healing process for the victims.
At some point, all of the men accused worked for what is now the Diocese of New Ulm. Attorney Jeff Anderson says the allegations date back to the early 1950s.
Tuesday morning, we heard from victims Lori Stoltz and Kim Schmit. They say one of the priests, who is accused of sexually abusing at least 30 victims and died in 2003, abused them as children.
Both filed lawsuits and have since settled their cases.
“Through this, coming forward, I stepped out of the shadows and into the light. I was able to have a voice and through that, finding out, there was many, many more girls victims such as myself that also were in the dark, in the shadows and felt shame and guilt,” Schmit said. “They’re now able to, because I stepped forward, to come out of the shadows also.”
“Children don’t have voices but adults do. As much as I started as ‘Jane Doe,’ I was anonymous, I guess I got the courage along the way to have my name out there. Hoping that if I had a name and was brave enough, I could show other people that you can be brave too,” Stoltz said. “And it’s scary, it really is scary, but you have support.”
Minnesota recently enacted the Child Victims Act that allows victims of child sex abuse a three-year window to file civil action. Under the law, victims must come forward by May 25 of this year.
The women who shared their stories hope it gives others courage to do the same.