Priest says he looked at boys' genitalia out of 'pure stupidity'

Anderson, Pususta
St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, right, called Wednesday, July 10, 2013 for the Catholic Church to release information on all priests in Minnesota with "credible allegations" of child sex abuse. At left is David Pususta of St. Paul, who says he was abused by a priest in the 1960s.
MPR Photo/Madeleine Baran

A man who claims he was sexually abused by a priest decades ago wants the Catholic Church to turn over the names of suspected pedophiles.

David Pususta said he was a 10-year-old altar boy when the abuse began in the 1960s. Pususta, now 62, was living with his family in Waverly, a central Minnesota town where life revolved around St. Mary's Catholic Church. Everyone trusted the priest, Father John Brown -- including Pususta's parents. That's how the abuse started, he said.

"He actually called up my parents, asked them if I would come up to the rectory," Pususta recalled. "It was a warm summer night, I remember. And my dad was very religious. There was two powerful people in Waverly. There was the banker and the parish priest. Those were the two most powerful people."

He said Father Brown lied about the reason for the visit.

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"He was going to talk about the birds and the bees," Pususta said. "So he was even then, he was gathering the confidence from my parents, so I went up there. We never talked about the birds and bees."

Instead, Pususta said, Brown touched him sexually.

Pususta said it happened several times, but he did not tell anyone because he was ashamed. He stopped going to church and stopped believing in God.

"I just didn't think that there could be such a entity that would do such a thing to me or other kids," he said.

Brown, now 92, lives in a nursing home in St. Paul. He uses a walker and spends his time reading the Bible and watching old movies.

The priest, who retired in 1991, said he still remembers a boy named David.

"Years ago, when I was young and foolish, I did not abuse them," Brown said. "However I looked at their genitals. I did not touch their genitals at all though. Was careful not to do that at all. It's stupid. I know that. But again, I look back, I did not handle, I did not fondle them at all."

Brown said he looked at the boys out of "pure stupidity" -- not because he was sexually attracted to them.

"It should not have been done," he said.

At a news conference Wednesday in St. Paul, attorney Jeff Anderson said he filed a request with a Ramsey County judge on behalf of Pususta. Anderson wants the judge to unseal the names of 33 priests the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. The names are already in court records as part of an earlier lawsuit, but they're sealed and cannot be released without a court order.

Anderson praised Pususta for coming forward.

"It is this kind of courage that we are grateful for because until these names are known and until this list and others like it in Minnesota are released by the bishops, the community cannot be warned about Brown, whether he's on the list or not, and others like him," Anderson said. "And know that there are perils that are yet to be known."

Similar efforts by Anderson have failed in the past. However, a new state law allows victims of child sexual abuse more time to sue. Anderson hopes new lawsuits will make the names public.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis does not want the list made public. It released a statement today calling sexual abuse "absolutely unacceptable." Archdiocese officials said many of the allegations against the 33 priests on the list are decades old, and some of the priests are dead.

None of the priests on the list has been in active ministry for at least 10 years, its statement said.