Northern Minnesota diocese names 17 priests accused of abuse

Dec. 31, 2013 at 6:05 PM   |   0 comments

DULUTH, Minn., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The Catholic Diocese of Duluth, Minn., Tuesday named 17 priests, all either dead or out of the ministry, it says were credibly accused of molesting children.

The allegations against the priests -- who either served in the Duluth Diocese or were from other dioceses or religious orders and worked or lived in the diocese -- extended back decades, church officials said in a statement posted on the diocese's website.

"The release of this information underscores a sad truth that must be acknowledged: Over the last 65 years, a number of clergy members in the Diocese of Duluth have violated the sacred trust placed in them by children, youth and their families," Bishop Paul Sirba said in a statement.

"These clergy have caused terrible harm to victims, to the victims' families, to our community, to the church and to the many, many good priests who faithfully carry out their duties to God's people with love and generosity."

Sirba apologized for assaults said he hoped releasing the priests' names brings "hope and healing to victims of clergy sexual abuse."

The diocese said none of the priests is in active ministry, with most of them deceased and some laicized.

The diocese said it has paid out about $780,000 to victims in settlements and counseling, with a "significant amount" of the total paid by insurance. The diocese said it still faces lawsuits filed by two people alleging they were sexually abused as a minor by a member of the clergy who had been assigned to the diocese.

The priests named by the diocese are: Kirby Blanchard, removed from ministry in 1995 and died in 2006; Louis Brouillard, removed in 1985 and living in Pine City; Victor Chateauvert, removed in 1992 and died in 1999; Leonard Colston, removed in 1986 and died 2004; Raymond Cossette, retired in 1995 and living in Brainerd; Frederick Fox, retired in 1987 and died in 1999; John Golobich, retired in 1993 and died in 2011; Ralph Goniea, not in diocese at time of allegation and died in 2003; Robert Klein, removed in 1987 and died in 2000; Mark Makowski, removed in 1995 and living in Sun City, Ariz.; (Thomas) Gregory Manning, removed in 1957 and died in 1979; John Nicholson, died in 1988 while still a diocesan priest; Dennis Puhl, removed in 1986 and died in 1995; Thomas Stack, died in 1987 before allegation; Joseph Thibaudeau, died in 1946 before allegation; Stephen Toporowitz, died in 1969 before allegation; and Angelo Zankl, died in 2007 before allegation.

An 18th priest, who is no longer in ministry, was the subject of "a single vague and ambiguous allegation that did not identify the priest by name" and could not be corroborated, the diocese said.

Five other priests with ties to the Duluth diocese, but who were accused while working in other ministries, also were named: Cornelius Kelleher, removed from ministry in 2012 and living in Proctor; Vincent Fitzgerald, died in 2009 and deceased at time of allegation; Othmar Hohmann, retired in 1976 and died in 1980; Richard Jeub, retired in 2002 and living in Crosby; and Brennen Maiers, removed from ministry in 2002 and living at St. John's Abbey, Collegeville.

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