MN- Crookston bishop hid predator priest for a decade
For immediate release: Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Newly released records show that Crookston's bishop kept silent about a credibly accused and suspended predator priest in Winona for at least a decade.
As a top ranking church official in Winona diocese, then - Fr. Michael J. Hoeppner knew that Fr. Leland J Smith was a danger to children. He explained to Smith that he was on "administrative leave" due to charges of sexual abuse.
But apparently, at least as early as April of 2003, Fr. Hoeppner as far as we can tell did not tell police parishioners or the public about Fr.Smith.
In 2013, Fr. Smith was publicly "outed" as a credibly accused child molester because of the court ordered release of the names of credible accused clergy.
In 2007, Fr. Hoeppner was promoted by the pope to become Bishop Hoeppner, the head of the Crookston diocese.
How many other credibly accused predator priests, in Winona or Crookston or elsewhere, is Bishop Hoeppner protecting now?
In June 2002, America’s bishops (under tremendous public pressure) finally adopted a nationwide church abuse policy. That policy mandates “openness” in clergy sex cases. Yet less than a year after it took effect, Hoeppner was violating it and putting kids in harm’s way by doing so.
We call on him to answer this question - How many other credibly accused predator priests, in Winona or Crookston or elsewhere, is he protecting now - and to explain why he violated church policy and common decency by keeping silent about a suspended and credibly accused priest for more than a decade.
And we call on anyone in the Crookston diocese – whether victim, witness or whistleblower – to speak up now and safeguard kids by exposing wrongdoers. We especially call on current and former Crookston area Catholic employees to do what Hoeppner refused to do for a decade
- to share what they know or suspect about Catholic clerics who commit or conceal child sex crimes with the police, prosecutors, parishioners and the public.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, email@example.com),Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Frank Meuers of Plymouth (952-334-5180, firstname.lastname@example.org) Verne Wagner (218-340-1277, email@example.com)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.