Former priest's improprieties detailed in new document release

Attorneys Mike Finnegan, left, and Jeff Anderson
Attorneys Mike Finnegan, left, and Jeff Anderson.
Madeleine Baran / MPR News

Attorneys representing victims of clergy sexual abuse made public more documents today in ongoing litigation against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona.

Today's release includes 119 pages on former priest Michael Kolar, most of which had been made public in previous lawsuits years earlier.

The documents are part of a massive lawsuit filed by a man who says he was sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas Adamson in the 1970s. The man has accused the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona of creating a public nuisance by keeping information on abusive priests secret. The lawsuit has forced church lawyers to turn over more than 60,000 pages from the files of priests accused of child sexual abuse over decades.

Explore the full investigation Clergy abuse, cover-up and crisis in the Twin Cities Catholic church

Attorneys Jeff Anderson and Mike Finnegan, who are representing the alleged victim, said they plan to release more files in the coming weeks, as the case heads toward trial in September.

"We're doing everything in our power to make sure that we get out as much as we can and we're doing that as fast as we can," Finnegan said.

The claims against Kolar are well-documented from past lawsuits, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis included Kolar in an updated list of those "against whom claims of sexual abuse of a minor within our archdiocese have been found to be substantiated," published on its website in February.

Kolar, who ran the archdiocese's Catholic Youth Center, admitted in depositions in 1988 and 1991 to having sexual contact with young adults at the center in St. Paul and elsewhere. He voluntarily left the priesthood in the early 1990s after women came forward to sue. In sworn testimony, Kolar said he realized that he had a sexual addiction and had been sexually exploiting vulnerable women for years.

Kolar testified that one of his sexual contacts resulted in a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage in the early 1980s. He also gave detailed testimony about his sexual involvement with a young suicidal woman who moved into the Catholic Youth Center in 1973.

The now-former priest's testimony also showed the deep roots of the archdiocese's clergy abuse problem. In his testimony in 1991, Kolar revealed that he had been sexually abused a priest when he was a 22-year-old student at St. Paul Seminary, as reported by MPR News earlier this week. He said the priest had taken him and other students to a cabin where he tried to get them drunk to coerce them into sex.

Kolar said it wasn't until he entered treatment that he realized he also had been a victim.

In sworn testimony, the Rev. Kevin McDonough, a top deputy at the chancery, identified Kolar's alleged abuser as Monsignor Jerome Boxleitner, the director of Catholic Charities. McDonough said he knew of Kolar's claim that Boxleitner "touched him on the genitals," but didn't consider it sexual abuse. Boxleitner stayed in ministry and remained a prominent Twin Cities leader until his death in 2013.

Kolar has not responded to requests by MPR News for comment.

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