Documents show Twin Cities archdiocese protected priest accused of sexual abuse

By Madeleine Baran

September 5, 2014

Leaders of the Twin Cities archdiocese kept a priest in ministry despite sexual contact with women under his pastoral care and didn't report allegations of child sex abuse to police, according to documents released today in a clergy abuse lawsuit.

More than 1,000 pages from internal files show how church leaders protected the Rev. Richard Jeub for decades. The documents detail allegations that Jeub sexually abused two teenage girls and sexually exploited vulnerable women under his care. Jeub, 74, retired in 2002 - twenty years after the archdiocese received the first complaint against him. He moved to the Duluth area, where he failed to persuade the Catholic diocese to allow him to assist in parishes. No records exist of any reports to police. It's illegal in Minnesota for a priest to have sexual contact with someone under his pastoral or counseling care.

In a 1989 memo, the Rev. Kevin McDonough, who would later serve as vicar general, told Archbishop John Roach that one of Jeub's accusers "is being advised to file criminal and/or civil action against Father Jeub."

McDonough wrote, "As you know, sexual exploitation by a therapist, including a clergy person in a therapeutic role, is a felony in Minnesota ... There is no reporting requirement around this statute (unlike in the case of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults) and, therefore, we are under no obligation to file a criminal complaint against Jeub."

Attorney Jeff Anderson released the documents as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of man who claims the Rev. Thomas Adamson sexually abused him in the 1970s. The lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona of creating a public nuisance by keeping information on abusive priests secret. Anderson released similar files on several other priests earlier this year.

Anderson has said he will continue to release files as he prepares to take the case to trial in Ramsey County District Court on Nov. 3.

In a statement to MPR News, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens said Jeub was removed from ministry because of the allegations.

"We don't have knowledge of whether police were called," Cozzens wrote. "None of the people involved are here now and the documents don't give an explanation."

Archbishop John Nienstedt "has reconsidered these allegations and has determined that they may constitute sexual abuse of a minor," Cozzens said. "Jeub's laicization case is currently in process."

Nienstedt named Jeub in December 2013 on a list of "priests with credible claims against them of sexual abuse of a minor."

Two women have claimed Jeub sexually abused them as teenagers. The archdiocese reached a settlement with one of the women. The other woman turned down a settlement and demanded a jury trial. The jury sided with the priest, according to news accounts at the time. Court records for the case have been destroyed.

In a separate case in 1995, a woman sued the archdiocese, Jeub and St. Richard and St. Kevin parishes, alleging that Jeub sexually abused her while he served as her counselor from about 1980 to 1990.

The woman, who is not identified in the lawsuit, said that Jeub visited her family in 1980 while her husband was suffering from a heart problem. The priest then began providing marital counseling to her, according to the lawsuit. During that time, Jeub initiated "unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact" with her, the lawsuit said. The woman filed for divorce in 1981, and the sexual contact continued until 1990, according to the suit.

Jeub acknowledged, in his written response to the lawsuit, "that during the period from 1980 to 1990 he hugged and kissed plaintiff with her permission and told her that he loved her," according to the court record. He denied the abuse claims. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount in 1995.

Jeub could not be reached for comment. Earlier this year, he told MPR News, "My offense, apparently, as far as I know, is that I kissed a 16-year-old at her birthday party, uninvited, in front of her friends. It was embarrassing. It was inappropriate. It was stupid."

"I also had a 17-year-old who I was seeing on a regular basis because she came from a troubled home," he said. "She would come in and talk to me. And we usually ended with a hug. One time I kissed her. ... Those are the two offenses against me. And inclusion in that list takes a big black brush and paints everybody with the same brush and that bothers me." He said he is not being monitored by the archdiocese.

Documents show the cover-up

The documents released today provide another detailed look at the tactics used by church leaders to protect priests accused of sexual abuse.

In 1982, the archdiocese received its first documented complaint against Jeub. In a Dec. 6, 1982 letter, the Rev. Ronald Bowers, a chancery official, responded to the man who made the complaint.

"In your letter, you make reference to Father Richard Jeub, proposing that he may not always have been discreet in his dealings with your former daughter-in-law," Bowers wrote. "You express concern about his personal and professional behavior ... We have a process conducted here within the Archbishop's offices by which we are able to discuss matters such as this with individual priests. But, we cannot begin that process without your consent, since the information you shared with the Tribunal is carefully protected by the Tribunal's own understanding of confidentiality which, as you can guess, is a rather strict understanding of the word."

The files do not indicate whether the archdiocese pursued the claim.

In 1987, Roach, the archbishop, received a letter from a woman who said she was sexually abused by Jeub for about six years from 1976 to 1982 when she sought "pastoral help" from Jeub as an adult. "I am tired of keeping his secret and protecting him anymore," the woman wrote.

The woman met with the Rev. Robert Carlson, now the Archbishop of St. Louis, about her complaint. Carlson summarized the meeting in a June 17, 1987 memo to Roach. He said the woman went to Jeub for counseling "and it moved quickly into friendship and sexual contact. There is no doubt in my mind, but that this woman is truthful and, because of her dependent relationship to counseling, Father Jeub was able to develop a relationship with her which involved touching, kissing, fondling and, eventually, masturbation."

The woman said she helped Jeub "dispose of" pornography, borrowed money from him to buy a car, and "felt real dependency on Father Jeub as priest, counselor, friend, loan officer, father figure and somehow God has been mixed up in all of it."

Carlson said he told the woman that he believed her and would confront the priest.

Jeub "did not deny the charges," Carlson wrote in an Aug. 13, 1987 memo to Roach. "It is my opinion, Archbishop, that Father Jeub has a pretty good understanding of the seriousness of this and is a good candidate for some therapy and study at this time."

The woman, whose name has been redacted, told the archdiocese that she had tried to confront Jeub directly - but that he didn't seem to realize that he had done anything wrong.

In a handwritten letter, the woman told Jeub, "You exploited me the first time you stopped focusing on what I was talking about and started focusing on how near your hand was to my breast and wondering how you could touch it. It hurts to realize how you took advantage of my vulnerability."

She continued, "I lost a lot in being exploited by you. I lost my self-respect, my integrity. I lost the sense of my sexuality being good and valuable. I struggle to trust God and prayer again. I'm angry at the Church for letting you get away with such behavior."

Jeub replied: "You raise a part of our relationship that I have had no comfort about either. I am extremely sorry for and deeply saddened by the pain and mistrust of yourself and your goodness that I have been party to. I never intended anything of that sort, but the proverb says the road to hell is paved that way."

He wrote, "I can only ask your forgiveness today for what was done in weakness and stupidity," adding that he wondered "if we weren't both co-dependent at that time."

Roach sent Jeub for a psychological evaluation at a treatment center for clergy in New Mexico run by the Servants of the Paraclete. Jeub told clinicians that he had "struggled to convert sexuality from a dirty thing to something beautiful" and that "I've always had a Messiah complex. Instances of the respect and power people bestow on the ordained, have left me awe-struck. It is a good way of spending time, energy, life," according to the center's report.

Jeub admitted sexual contact "with less than a dozen women, usually things became inappropriate when sexual behaviors outside our relationship became a counseling subject ... I have found myself in sexually awkward situations that I've handled well, others poorly. I hope I respect myself and woman. In principle, anything like exploitation, I find disgusting, although, I may have been guilty of it at times."

Jeub acknowledged that he was sent to the facility because of his contact with a young woman in the early 1970s. He counseled the woman and they became friends, he said. "Unfortunately, an affectionate masturbatory relation was also occasionally part of it," he said.

According to the facility's evaluation, Jeub engaged in a "triangular erotic friendship" with two young women at his parish beginning in 1972 or 1973. The contact involved "touching only, not intercourse."

Jeub also admitted to "a number of other sexual involvements, again usually touching only, but at least on one occasion with intercourse, these relationships creating no public problems and some of them continuing to the present as friendships," the report said. "He has suffered some guilt about these relationships but has tended to justify them to himself by thinking of them as helping relationships in which he was committed to the women's welfare."

While at the treatment center, Jeub admitted that he was still in a relationship with another woman, and that he was reluctant to end it because of concern about her health.

A psychologist at the center recommended "intensive residential placement" and expressed concern about Jeub's alleged pattern of seeking out needy women.

"They have all started with him being in a helping or counseling role, which extended to friendship and ultimately resulted in some sexual contact ..." the psychologist wrote. "In addition, it cannot be overlooked that becoming involved in friendships, not to mention the sexual relationship, after being in a professional relationship of a counselor, is generally considered unethical."

When Jeub returned from New Mexico, he moved into a rectory but wasn't assigned as a pastor. Roach sent Jeub to local therapist Gary Schoener, who had evaluated other priests accused of abuse. Schoener disagreed with the center's recommendations.

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Showing 1 comment

  • Robert Verhoff
    commented 2014-09-10 12:42:14 -0500
    Ignorance was bliss for me years ago before I became aware of these stories of abuse. Now I can’t get it out of my mind. And it gets worse by the day and it will not end till the “fat lady sings”.

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