MN--Another perp priest finds secular post in MN
For immediate release: Monday, Dec. 1
Statement by Frank Meuers of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (952-334-5180, [email protected])
Once again, a predator priest has won access to vulnerable families through a non-profit group because most Catholic officials refuse to post predator priests names on church websites.
In 2010, a Duluth newspaper exposed Fr. Thomas E. Eriksen as working with Special Olympics in Kansas City.
Now, a Minnesota radio station discloses that he has recently been volunteering at a Twin Cities nonprofit, the Community Emergency Assistance Program.
He got these positions despite
---a pending criminal investigation into his alleged child sex crimes,
--- a civil settlement with a Catholic of at least $3 million dollars, and
--- three decades of knowledge of his crimes by Twin Cities Catholic officials.
For a dozen years, we’ve begged bishops to take the quickest, cheapest and easiest step to safeguard kids –put pedophile priests’ names on church websites. If they’re too dangerous to have working in parishes, they too dangerous to have living among unsuspecting families.) All but a few bishops resist this simple, common sense precaution. Among them are church officials in Superior Wisconsin and Kansas City Missouri Bishop Robert Finn. (Ericksen spent time in both of these dioceses.)
Some of the blame falls to these non-profit agencies – Community Emergency Assistance Program in St. Paul and Special Olympics in Kansas City. (How hard is it to Google prospective employees and volunteers?) Some belong to the Sawyer County Wisconsin law enforcement officials who apparently aren’t trying very hard to find and question Ericksen. (If a reporter can locate him and get him to confess on the phone, how hard can a police investigation be?) But much of the blame belongs to Catholic officials in Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin who continue to do little or nothing to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners or the public about men they know are dangerous.
Ericksen reportedly molested two Wisconsin boys, Paul and James Eck, who have spoken publicly about the abuse and are pursuing criminal charges against Ericksen. They sued and were paid a $3 million dollar settlement by Superior Catholic church officials.
A reporter asked Ericksen if he admitted the accusations. Ericksen initially replied “I have no comment.” He later denied the allegations but said “I thought that was all settled in the courts.”
According to the News Tribune, “Ericksen has posted detailed biographies of himself on the social and professional networking sites MySpace and LinkedIn, listing his e-mail address and MySpace handle as ‘saint_tom.’ He lists himself as a graduate of St. Francis Seminary and a “Holy Reverend Priest of God” from 1973 to 1983, the same year Paul Eck alleges he was molested. Ericksen writes that he moved to Minneapolis and worked at AT&T as a customer service specialist for 20 years before relocating to Kansas City, where he lists himself as working for the census.” He attended college in Wisconsin and seminary in Kentucky.
Catholic church officials – in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri - should do now what they should have done ages ago: use their websites and parish bulletins to alert their flock about Ericksen’s presence in these area and his crimes. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:d3YW6_fVikEJ:www.linkedin.com/in/tomericksen+St.+Francis+Seminary+and+a+%E2%80%9CHoly+Reverend+Priest+of+God%E2%80%9D&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
And employers must exercise more caution. It goes against our innate sense of fair play and open-mindedness, but experience has taught us that employers must be extra careful when considering ex-priests as potential employees. That may sound hard or unreasonable to some, but likely not to moms and dads who must put the safety of their vulnerable kids ahead of the comfort of powerful adults.
Clare Brumback, the head of the Twin Cities non-profit who didn’t adequately vet Ericksen and let him remain for weeks around vulnerable families even after learning about his past, should be fired. She’s dead wrong when she claims his role as a greeter at a food shelf did not children at risk. Child molesters will use any role or title or position to gain access to vulnerable families, especially families that are in need and likely headed by single parents.
According to an independent Boston-based research group called BishopAccountability.org, “Ericksen is accused of molesting three boys in 1983 while assigned at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Winter, WI. Two of the accusers sued and settled with Ericksen and Diocese in 1989 for nearly $3M. The diocese says Ericksen was officially removed from priesthood in 1988. He was never criminally charged. Two more men claimed, in 6/10, that he raped them as boys. Efforts were underway in 2010 to extradite him from Missouri. He left WI in 1983 and the statute of limitations may have been suspended. He has denied allegations.”
Here is Fr. Erickson’s photo and work history:
We long for the day that statements like this are put out by Catholic officials with their vast resources, instead of by a small, under-funded support group like us.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, [email protected]), Frank Meuers of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (952-334-5180, [email protected]) Verne Wagner 218-340-1277, [email protected]