|St. Paul ex-priest
guilty of sex offense, theft
BY BETH SILVER - Pioneer Press
May 18, 2005
A former Roman Catholic priest from St. Paul was convicted Thursday
of sexual misconduct and theft involving a former church employee
After a weeklong trial and a day of deliberations, a Hennepin County
jury found John Joseph Bussmann, 51, guilty of two felony counts
of theft, one count of sexual misconduct and one count of indecent
Bussmann also is charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct
involving two other female parishioners. Those cases are scheduled
to go to trial in July.
All of the incidents reportedly involve women Bussmann counseled
at St. Walburga in Fletcher, Minn., and St. Marin in Rogers, Minn.
The parishes later merged to form Mary Queen of Peace in Rogers.
Bussmann, who was ordained in 1980, was removed as a priest in
A female church employee testified that in April 2001, Bussmann
told her there was water in the church basement. When the woman
said she got to the bottom of the stairs, Bussmann walked into the
basement naked and blocked the stairs so she could not leave.
On another occasion, the woman testified that Bussmann bought her
a gift. When she went to his office to thank him, Bussmann gave
her a hug and then groped her, the woman said.
On a third occasion, the woman said she told Bussmann she wanted
$2,500 of a family inheritance to St. Walburga Church. Bussmann
suggested she give the money directly to him so he could surprise
the church by buying a piano. Bussmann deposited the woman's check
into his bank account but never bought the piano or transferred
the money to the church, prosecutors said.
"This man exploited his position of trust to victimize his
own parishioner," said Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 11 before Hennepin County District
Judge Diana Eagon.
All incidents reportedly involve women counseled at church.