MN--Five local predator priests are “outed” for first time


Five local predator priests are “outed” for first time

All worked in Duluth but bishop claims to know nothing about them

Group calls on current & ex-church staff to “come clean” about abusers

Their direct church supervisors admit each of the men is “credibly accused”

Long secret records about them were released yesterday; More are on the way

Sirba’s “continuing secrecy” puts “kids in harm’s way,” support group contends

It wants diocese to “stop spending donated dollars on lawyers to keep secrets secret”


Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will discuss

--the newly-outed five predator priests who have worked in Duluth,

--the just-released and soon-to-be-released secret records about them, and

--provide their photos and work histories.

They will also

-- prod anyone who was hurt by the priests to speak up and get help, and

-- prod Catholic officials in Duluth and across Minnesota to “come clean” with more information about the priests and aggressively seek out their victims.   



TODAY, Wednesday, July 8 at 1:30 p.m. (rain or shine)


On the sidewalk outside the Duluth diocese headquarters (“chancery office”), 2830 E. 4th St. in Duluth


One-two individuals who belong to a support group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), including a Duluth man who was himself molested as a boy by a cleric


Records about seven Minnesota predator priests are being released as part of a lawsuit settlement. Five of them worked in the Duluth area: Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald, Fr.  Michael Charland, Fr. Robert J. Reitmeier, Fr. Paul Kabat and Fr. Thomas Meyer.

Duluth Catholic officials claim they know virtually nothing about these clerics and their tenure in Duluth. SNAP leaders do not believe this.

SNAP is calling on current and former church employees to “come clean” about these predators and share what they know, suspect or have heard about them with police, prosecutors and journalists.

The group also wants Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba to quit fighting to protect clergy who sexually abuse children. SNAP says the diocese “is spending tens of thousands dollars, donated by the faithful, to keep hidden their files on proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clergy.”


And SNAP wants Sirba to warn the public about one of the clerics who is now a psychologist.

SNAP is upset about Sirba’s involvement in at least three other clergy abuse cases:

--Last year, Sirba let another credibly accused priest, Fr. Tim Backous, work around children and vulnerable adults at Essentia Hospital.

--Most recently, Hibbing priest Fr.  Brian Lederer was accused of molesting children.

--Sirba  worked closely with the recently-resigned Archbishop John Neinstedt in St. Paul and played a part in the cover up of the now-imprisoned Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer’s abuse of two boys while Sirba was Auxiliary Bishop in the Twin Cities Archdiocese.

More details about each of the seven predators and their specific work histories in Minnesota (including dates, parishes and photos) will be provided at the news conference and/or is available at

Each priest belonged or belongs to a Belleville, Illiinois-based religious order called the Oblates (1-888-330-6264,

SNAP believes it’s likely others who were hurt by these priests are “still suffering in shame, silence and self-blame.” The groups want Catholic officials in Duluth and across Minnesota to “use parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements” to “aggressively seek out and offer help to these wounded victims.”

The records release is part of a settlement in a civil lawsuit brought against the Oblates by a Twin Cities man who reports having been molested by Fr. Fitzgerald. The settlement involved only the Oblates, so the case against the dioceses of Duluth and New Ulm (where the seven also worked) continues. So more long-hidden church records will be divulged in the months ahead.

The attorneys who represent the victim in this case are Jeff Anderson 651 227 9990, 612 817 8665 cell) and Mike Finnegan (651 227 9990). They have also handled clergy sex cases in Belleville and St. Louis.

Of the seven clerics, Fr. Reitmeier and Fr. Charland are alive. (The latter is a psychologist in the Twin Cities area.) The other five are deceased.


Verne Wagner, 218-340-1277 or Lwagsmn@yahoo.comDavid Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,, Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell,   

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