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St. Cloud diocese releases list of 33 priests who 'likely abused minors'

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The Diocese of St. Cloud, faced with a lawsuit and mounting public pressure, has released a list of 33 Catholic priests it believes "were likely involved in the sexual abuse of minors."

At least 16 of the priests were already known to the public through lawsuits and media reports. Several had been named as likely abusers last month by St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Twenty-one of the priests are dead, according to a statement released late Friday by the diocese. The list does not include any information about the abuse allegations or how the diocese evaluated the claims. It includes the name of each priest, his parish assignments, and whether he's still living — and if so, his town of residence. Several of the priests are listed as "Status Unknown."

The men are: 

 Robert Blumeyer, OSB (Order of St. Benedict): Deceased.  (Blumeyer was also included on a list released by St. John's Abbey.)

 Michael Brennan, TOR (Third Order Regular of Saint Francis): Status Unknown

 Anthony Canu, TOR: Status Unknown

 Cosmos Dalheimer, OSB: Deceased (Dahlheimer was also included on a list released by St. John's Abbey and another released by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in December.)

 John Eccleston: Deceased

 Richard Eckroth, OSB: Currently residing in Collegeville.  (Eckroth was also included on a list released by St. John's Abbey in December.)

 Sylvester Gall: Deceased

 William Garding: Deceased

 Raoul Gauthier: Deceased

 Thomas Gillespie, OSB: Currently residing in Collegeville (Gillespie was also included on a list released by St. John's Abbey in December.)

 Stanislaus Goryczka:  Deceased

 Francis Hoefgen, OSB: Address unknown  (Hoefgen was also included on a list released by St. John's Abbey and another released by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in December.)

 Othmar Hohmann, OSB: Deceased

 Raymond Jacques: St. Peter and Paul, Sauk Centre; Assumption, Morris; St. Anne's, Kimball. Deceased

 Val Klimek: Deceased

 Reginald Krakowski, TOR:  Current Status Unknown

 Joseph Kremer:  Deceased

 Richard Kujawa: Deceased

 Henry Lutgen:  Deceased

 Brennan Maiers, OSB: Currently residing in Collegeville  (Maiers was also included on a list released by St. John's Abbey and another released by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in December.)

 James Mohm:  Deceased

 Donald Rieder: Deceased

 Francisco Schulte, OSB:  Collegeville

 Robert Smith: Deceased

 Peter Snyers: Deceased

 Allan Speiser: Deceased

 James Thoennes: Currently residing in St. Cloud

 Roger Vaughn, OSC (Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross (Crosiers)): Currently residing in New York (Vaughn was also included on a list released by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in December.)

Michael Weber: Currently residing in the Twin Cities

 William Wey:  Deceased

 Adelbert Wolski, TOR: Current Status Unknown

 Vincent Yzermanns: Deceased

 Francis Zilkowski:  Deceased

Eckroth, Gillespie, Maiers, Schulte, Weber, Vaughn and Hoefgen could not be reached for comment. Thoennes declined to comment. 

The release of names by the St. Cloud diocese comes after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Diocese of WinonaSt. John's Abbey and the Diocese of Duluth released similar lists last month. 

• MPR News investigation: Archdiocese under scrutiny

Abuse victims and their lawyers have asked bishops for years to disclose information about priests who sexually abused children. Those efforts gained traction in recent months after MPR News reported that the Twin Cities archdiocese failed to report abuse claims to police and gave special payments to pedophile priests.

St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler, in a one-page statement accompanying the list, said, "It is my hope that the release of these names will provide validation to those victims who have been sexually abused and have already come forward. I pray it will also give strength to those who have remained silent and allow them to come forward." 

St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler
St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler.
Peter Potrowl via Wikimedia Commons

Kettler has served as the bishop of St. Cloud since November 2013. He handled fallout from the clergy sexual abuse scandal at his previous assignment as bishop of the Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska, which filed for bankruptcy in 2008 because of demands for financial settlements by more than 100 victims of clergy sexual abuse. Kettler declined to be interviewed.

The Diocese of St. Cloud released the names one day after Bob Ethen — a Sartell man who said he was sexually abused as a child in 1965 by the Rev. James Thoennes — filed a lawsuit against the diocese, accusing it of creating a public nuisance by keeping information about abusive priests secret. 

Ethen, 61, said he hopes the release of the names helps other victims and "puts the church on notice that no one's going to put up with this anymore."

Attorney Mike Finnegan, who represents Ethen, called the release today "a step in the right direction" but said he's still seeking the disclosure of all information on abusive priests, not just the names. 

The release of the St. Cloud names leaves New Ulm and Crookston as the only Minnesota Catholic dioceses yet to disclose the names of likely offenders. Victims' attorneys have asked judges to force the disclosure of lists in both dioceses. A hearing on the New Ulm list is scheduled for Monday, and a judge's decision is expected soon in the Crookston case.