Accused Minnesota Priests Still Working
BY RICK LINSK and CHARLES LASZEWSKI
Pioneer Press - May 26, 2002
At least three priests with documented records of sexual misconduct
or who settled lawsuits over accusations of sexual abuse are still
working in Twin Cities pulpits or archdiocesan positions.
One other was a parish priest until recently. And two others, sued
in Minnesota over sexual abuse allegations, have relocated to other
states, where one is an associate pastor and the other was the subject
of a recent warning by church officials.
Not all the cases involved children, but together they raise questions
about the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis' carefully phrased
policy on how priests are employed after abuse allegations.
The group includes:
* An associate pastor in Roseville who was determined by the archdiocese
to have had a series of sexual affairs with adult women and was
accused of making sexual advances toward two teen-age girls at an
Edina church in the 1960s.
* A recently retired associate pastor in Forest Lake accused of
groping boys in the 1960s and 1970s.
* A retired priest, sued three times over abuse allegations involving
boys or men, who moved from Minnesota to Arizona and was the subject
of a warning by the Diocese of Phoenix.
* A high-ranking member of an archdiocesan judicial tribunal who
settled a lawsuit by a 12-year-old boy over alleged abuse in 1973.
* A Franciscan priest, now associate pastor at a church in Florida,
who was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman he counseled at
a Minneapolis church.
* A priest serving Mass at a Bloomington monastery and doing research
for the archdiocese who pleaded guilty in 1983 to criminal sexual
misconduct for having sex with a boy parishioner over a five-year
In addition, just in the past week, other names came to light,
including a Hopkins priest accused of misconduct in New Jersey and
a Crosier brother living next door to St. Odilia Church in Shoreview.
The Rev. Kevin McDonough, the archdiocesan vicar general, said
in 1998 that in the previous 50 years, 15 priests in the archdiocese
had been "credibly accused" of molesting children, and
50 priests had sexually exploited adults. Last month, McDonough
said those numbers have not changed significantly. Archdiocese officials
did not return repeated phone calls last week for this article.
One observer believes those figures reflect only a fraction of
local abuse cases. "They're both very low. I'd at least double
that," said Walter H. Bera, a Minneapolis psychologist who
counsels sexual assault victims and has written books on clergy
The Pioneer Press compiled a list of priests accused of sexual
misconduct and found their names in state or national Catholic directories,
church Web sites and church bulletins.
The discoveries upset people who say they were assaulted. But at
least one priest said the spotlight is unfair.
"I think this should be dropped,'' said the Rev. Gilbert DeSutter,
the retiree in Arizona. "You are presuming we are guilty, and
the courts didn't say that. When you bring it back up you are hurting
everybody else, including me. I don't think the truth demands that.''
SERIES OF AFFAIRS
This year, as church abuse scandals erupted from Boston to Los
Angeles, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis took comfort
from having dealt with similar uproars a decade ago. One case was
that of James Porter, accused of molesting 21 boys while serving
as a priest in Bemidji. Porter was transferred to Minnesota after
previous abuse of dozens of boys in the 1950s and 1960s in Massachusetts.
He is now serving an 18-year prison sentence in Massachusetts for
child sexual abuse.
In March, the Twin Cities archdiocese announced it had "no
known child abuse offenders serving in parish ministry." A
"known abuser" includes any priest who settled a complaint
or abuse lawsuit, McDonough said more recently.
Some of the clerics accused over the years have apparently left
the vocation. Others retired or were moved to administrative positions.
In a statement published last week in the Catholic Spirit newspaper,
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn said two priests who molested children
were working for the archdiocese in administrative positions.
But others returned to the pulpit.
One is the Rev. Richard H. Jeub, 62, associate pastor for the past
few years at St. Rose of Lima Church in Roseville.
One woman, a health care professional from Edina, reached a settlement
with Jeub, her parish and the archdiocese over abuse she says occurred
in 1969. The woman said Jeub kissed her, touched her inappropriately
and repeatedly made remarks about her body while she was a "naive"
15-year-old and he was associate pastor at Our Lady of Grace Parish
A friend of hers leveled even harsher allegations against Jeub.
That woman, identified in a lawsuit as "Mary Jane Doe,"
charged that Jeub sexually abused her from 1967 to 1970 while she
was an adolescent at the Edina church. Jeub denied it.
The woman, in a recent interview, said she turned down a $125,000
settlement offer and demanded a trial. "I wanted his collar,"
she said. In a surprise verdict, a jury sided with the priest, finding
no abuse had occurred.
The lawsuit led to disclosure of even more explosive information:
archdiocese records showing that the priest had engaged in a series
of illicit affairs with adult women in his parishes.
Jeub could not be reached for comment for this story. The Rev.
Walter Sochacki, the church's pastor, referred questions to the
In January 1970, Jeub was transferred from Our Lady of Grace to
a church in St. Paul. As his career continued, two things became
clear to higher-ups, according to archdiocesan documents in court
files: The priest was a creative and intelligent man. He also took
advantage of vulnerable women.
McDonough, the point man for clergy abuse complaints, wrote in
a 1991 letter to a job-placement service that Jeub had "a history
of exploitative sexual relations with adult women."
The archdiocese sent Jeub to St. Luke Institute, the Catholic Church-affiliated
facility in Maryland that treats priests for sexual compulsions,
in 1990. A psychiatrist there wrote that Jeub had been sexually
active with several women, including a nun he was counseling, a
blind woman he was taking care of, a student nurse and the nurse's
friend, whom he was counseling. In addition, while serving as a
hospital chaplain Jeub befriended the family of a heart attack victim
and eventually had a sexual relationship with the patient's wife.
But after six months at St. Luke's, Jeub was a "changed man,"
McDonough wrote at the time. The archdiocese kept the priest out
of full-time parish work from 1990 to 1995.
The two women whose accusations date to their teens said recently
that they were shocked to learn Jeub was a pastor again.
"Has everybody in (that) parish been told that this man had
been sexually exploitative with vulnerable adults and also minors?"
the Edina woman said. "If they've done all that, then I guess
so be it."
TROUBLE IN POOL
It took only one day in 1977 for the Rev. Jerome C. Kern to alter
15-year-old Alan Michaud's life.
Still, until February, when he took a medical disability retirement,
Kern was an associate pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church in Forest
Lake. The parish also runs a K-6 grade school. Kern said in a brief
telephone interview that "people" were aware of his background.
Michaud was with a group of Catholic Boy Scouts visiting the St.
Paul Seminary. Kern, who was one of the chaperones at the seminary,
did not know Michaud. In a sauna, the priest touched him in the
groin area, Michaud says.
Minutes later, while the boys were swimming, Kern trapped Michaud
at one end of the pool and fondled him for about 45 minutes, Michaud
says. Looking back, he recalls that the experience left him overwhelmed
with guilt, pleasure and numbness. He repressed the memory for years,
but it affected his life in significant ways, Michaud said.
Kern, reached by phone last week, refused to discuss the allegations.
In 1993, Michaud identified Kern as the "Father Jerry"
who had abused him years earlier. Michaud arranged a meeting with
McDonough, the vicar general. McDonough shared an embarrassing fact:
The archdiocese had a file on Kern dating back to 1969, when the
priest was accused of grabbing the genitals of two boys from St.
Paul. In fact, Kern had been transferred out of his St. Paul parish
after complaints to the archdiocese from the boys' mothers.
Michaud filed suit. In a settlement, he says, he was promised Kern
would never be in another parish nor around children.
When he was informed that Kern, now 61, was working in a parish
until recently, Michaud said the news "greatly upset'' him.
"It blows my mind. There is a lot of 'Blame the victim.' ''
He is unsympathetic to the church argument that by retaining priests,
it helped keep them from molesting again.
"Isn't that what prisons are for?" he asks.
Pierre Dufresne was an altar boy at St. Williams Catholic Church
in Fridley in the late 1970s. The Rev. Gilbert DeSutter, the head
pastor, was a friend of the family.
When Dufresne was about 11, the priest offered to take the boy
to a cabin in Prior Lake to water ski. In court papers years later,
Dufresne alleged the priest urged him to remove his swimsuit in
a sauna; pressured him into showering together; and insisted the
boy sleep in his bed.
"That's a lie,'' said DeSutter, now 74 and retired in Arizona.
The priest said he didn't remember asking Dufresne to be naked
in the sauna, said they couldn't have showered together because
it was too small, and said there were three beds in the cabin and
DeSutter slept alone in one of those.
Years after the incident, in 1993, Dufresne told his father what
had happened, according to court files. Gerard Dufresne conveyed
his son's experience to McDonough, demanding an apology and assurance
the priest would be kept away from adolescents. McDonough revealed
that officials had a file on the priest regarding other sexual misconduct
allegations. Later, he told them DeSutter would be retired by that
But six years later, the Dufresnes learned that DeSutter was saying
Mass at a church in Faribault. Archbishop Flynn, responding to an
angry letter from Gerard Dufresne, replied that the priest had completed
counseling and was considered a safe candidate for weekend substitute
duties, but said even that ended in 1998.
St. Paul lawyer Jeff Anderson filed two lawsuits against DeSutter
in 1999. Pierre Dufresne, who was angry that DeSutter was allowed
to continue to serve as a priest, brought one of those suits. The
other was filed on behalf of a man who said the priest sexually
abused him in 1992 at St. Michael's Church in Prior Lake.
That man, who sued under the pseudonym John Doe, said in an interview
that at age 31, he approached DeSutter for counseling. They would
meet, usually in the church sacristy. At first, DeSutter would hug
him, he said. Then it progressed to longer hugs and then kisses
on the lips, which the man said DeSutter called "holy kisses."
Finally, he said, DeSutter reached into his pants and grabbed his
"He was manipulating me, keeping me coming back and pursuing
his own agenda," the man said. "There is not biblical
grounds for grabbing the genitals.''
DeSutter said he hugged everybody, something that was common then
but that nobody does now. He denied kissing or groping the man.
Both civil cases were settled out of court, with the men receiving
payments and - they say - assurance from the archdiocese that DeSutter
would not be allowed to function as a priest in any church.
A third man, Michael P. Ivers, filed a lawsuit in 1996 contending
DeSutter had made "inappropriate sexual advances" toward
him in 1978. A court dismissed the lawsuit, saying it was filed
In the last few years, DeSutter moved from Minnesota to Arizona.
The Diocese of Phoenix took notice of his arrival. In a newsletter
published for priests, the diocese noted that DeSutter was "a
retired priest from the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis
and may not exercise public ministry," and that he lacked authorization
from either archdiocese to do so.
DeSutter said he is not working as a priest.
CONTACT FOR YEARS
Another priest to relocate from Minnesota after settling a sexual
misconduct lawsuit is the Rev. Christopher Panagoplos, the associate
pastor at St. Patrick Church in Mount Dora, Fla. Panagoplos, a Franciscan
priest, was sued in 1992 by a woman who said he started a sexual
relationship with her around 1977 at St. Bridget's Church in Minneapolis.
The woman, identified in the lawsuit as "Jane I. I. Doe,"
said the counseling and the sexual relationship started shortly
after the death of her father and her separation from her husband.
In court documents, the woman said she disclosed the alleged abuse
to another priest at St. Bridget's, who told her to keep the story
secret. The sexual contact continued for years, even after Panagoplos
was transferred to a parish outside Minnesota, she said.
Panagoplos, who was ordained in 1976, declined to discuss the case
or his current status.
Another local priest with lawsuits in his past was assigned to
an archdiocesan administrative position. The Rev. Joseph Wajda,
the subject of two lawsuits in the late 1980s alleging abuse of
teen-age boys, is the judicial vicar of the archdiocese's Metropolitan
Tribunal. The tribunal exercises judicial authority under church
law to rule on matters such as annulments of marriage.
The lawsuits against Wajda were brought in 1989 by two men who
said they were abused while Wajda was at St. Raphael's Church in
Crystal. In a case that was settled for an undisclosed sum in 1990,
one man said he was 12 years old when the alleged abuse took place
in 1973. The other was 16 years old when the alleged abuse occurred
In a column published in the current Catholic Spirit, the archdiocese's
newspaper, Archbishop Flynn defended the decision to retain Wajda
and two other criminally convicted priests, the Revs. Gilbert Gustafson
and Michael Stevens.
Stevens works on the archdiocese's computer services team. Gustafson
does research and is an aide to archdiocesan administrators, but
it was his activity serving Mass at a monastery in Bloomington that
drew media attention last week. (See accompanying article.)
But moving abusers to non-parish positions still doesn't satisfy
some of the church's critics. They say abusers should be kicked
out of the priesthood, not cloistered or given administrative jobs.
"I say to the church, You can't have it both ways," said
one of Jeub's accusers, the Edina woman. "You can't keep these
perpetrators and yet say to the victims, 'We really understand.'
Rick Linsk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)
228-5371. Charles Laszewski can be reached at email@example.com
or (651) 228-5458. Religion editor Stephen Scott contributed to