Ramsey County judge rules clergy sex abuse case may go to trial

Jeff Anderson
Attorney Jeff Anderson at a press conference in January.
Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

A Ramsey County judge decided Monday to allow a clergy abuse lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona to go forward on claims of negligence.

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However, Judge John Van de North said he needed more information before he decided whether a claim that the church created a public nuisance should also go forward to a jury.

Archdiocese attorney Tom Wieser said he's hopeful that the judge will dismiss the public nuisance claim.

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"The majority of courts that have ruled on that have ruled that there's no legal basis for that claim to move forward," Wieser said.

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Victims' attorney Jeff Anderson says he's pleased with the ruling, since it means the case is headed for a trial in September.

"And it's very clear that the judge gets it," Anderson said. "And it's very clear that we're going to get another opportunity every day for the rest of these days forward to get more information out there to protect kids."

The lawsuit alleges that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona created a public nuisance by keeping information on abusive priests secret. The man who filed the suit claims he was sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas Adamson in the 1970s.

The case has already forced the depositions of Archbishop John Nienstedt, former Archbishop Harry Flynn and other top officials. It also required church officials to make public the names of abusive priests and turn over more than 60,000 pages of internal documents to the plaintiff's attorneys.