Documents show Twin Cities archdiocese protected priest accused of sexual abuse

Leaders of the Twin Cities archdiocese kept a priest in ministry despite sexual contact with women under his pastoral care and didn't report allegations of child sex abuse to police, according to documents released today in a clergy abuse lawsuit.

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

More than 1,000 pages from internal files show how church leaders protected the Rev. Richard Jeub for decades. The documents detail allegations that Jeub sexually abused two teenage girls and sexually exploited vulnerable women under his care. Jeub, 74, retired in 2002 - twenty years after the archdiocese received the first complaint against him. He moved to the Duluth area, where he failed to persuade the Catholic diocese to allow him to assist in parishes. No records exist of any reports to police. It's illegal in Minnesota for a priest to have sexual contact with someone under his pastoral or counseling care.

In a 1989 memo, the Rev. Kevin McDonough, who would later serve as vicar general, told Archbishop John Roach that one of Jeub's accusers "is being advised to file criminal and/or civil action against Father Jeub."

McDonough wrote, "As you know, sexual exploitation by a therapist, including a clergy person in a therapeutic role, is a felony in Minnesota ... There is no reporting requirement around this statute (unlike in the case of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults) and, therefore, we are under no obligation to file a criminal complaint against Jeub."

Attorney Jeff Anderson released the documents as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of man who claims the Rev. Thomas Adamson sexually abused him in the 1970s. The lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona of creating a public nuisance by keeping information on abusive priests secret. Anderson released similar files on several other priests earlier this year.

Anderson has said he will continue to release files as he prepares to take the case to trial in Ramsey County District Court on Nov. 3.

In a statement to MPR News, Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens said Jeub was removed from ministry because of the allegations.

"We don't have knowledge of whether police were called," Cozzens wrote. "None of the people involved are here now and the documents don't give an explanation."

Archbishop John Nienstedt "has reconsidered these allegations and has determined that they may constitute sexual abuse of a minor," Cozzens said. "Jeub's laicization case is currently in process."

Nienstedt named Jeub in December 2013 on a list of "priests with credible claims against them of sexual abuse of a minor."

Two women have claimed Jeub sexually abused them as teenagers. The archdiocese reached a settlement with one of the women. The other woman turned down a settlement and demanded a jury trial. The jury sided with the priest, according to news accounts at the time. Court records for the case have been destroyed.

In a separate case in 1995, a woman sued the archdiocese, Jeub and St. Richard and St. Kevin parishes, alleging that Jeub sexually abused her while he served as her counselor from about 1980 to 1990.

The woman, who is not identified in the lawsuit, said that Jeub visited her family in 1980 while her husband was suffering from a heart problem. The priest then began providing marital counseling to her, according to the lawsuit. During that time, Jeub initiated "unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact" with her, the lawsuit said. The woman filed for divorce in 1981, and the sexual contact continued until 1990, according to the suit.

Jeub acknowledged, in his written response to the lawsuit, "that during the period from 1980 to 1990 he hugged and kissed plaintiff with her permission and told her that he loved her," according to the court record. He denied the abuse claims. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount in 1995.

Jeub could not be reached for comment. Earlier this year, he told MPR News, "My offense, apparently, as far as I know, is that I kissed a 16-year-old at her birthday party, uninvited, in front of her friends. It was embarrassing. It was inappropriate. It was stupid."

"I also had a 17-year-old who I was seeing on a regular basis because she came from a troubled home," he said. "She would come in and talk to me. And we usually ended with a hug. One time I kissed her. ... Those are the two offenses against me. And inclusion in that list takes a big black brush and paints everybody with the same brush and that bothers me." He said he is not being monitored by the archdiocese.

Documents show the cover-up

The documents released today provide another detailed look at the tactics used by church leaders to protect priests accused of sexual abuse.

In 1982, the archdiocese received its first documented complaint against Jeub. In a Dec. 6, 1982 letter, the Rev. Ronald Bowers, a chancery official, responded to the man who made the complaint.

"In your letter, you make reference to Father Richard Jeub, proposing that he may not always have been discreet in his dealings with your former daughter-in-law," Bowers wrote. "You express concern about his personal and professional behavior ... We have a process conducted here within the Archbishop's offices by which we are able to discuss matters such as this with individual priests. But, we cannot begin that process without your consent, since the information you shared with the Tribunal is carefully protected by the Tribunal's own understanding of confidentiality which, as you can guess, is a rather strict understanding of the word."

The files do not indicate whether the archdiocese pursued the claim.

In 1987, Roach, the archbishop, received a letter from a woman who said she was sexually abused by Jeub for about six years from 1976 to 1982 when she sought "pastoral help" from Jeub as an adult. "I am tired of keeping his secret and protecting him anymore," the woman wrote.

The woman met with the Rev. Robert Carlson, now the Archbishop of St. Louis, about her complaint. Carlson summarized the meeting in a June 17, 1987 memo to Roach. He said the woman went to Jeub for counseling "and it moved quickly into friendship and sexual contact. There is no doubt in my mind, but that this woman is truthful and, because of her dependent relationship to counseling, Father Jeub was able to develop a relationship with her which involved touching, kissing, fondling and, eventually, masturbation."

The woman said she helped Jeub "dispose of" pornography, borrowed money from him to buy a car, and "felt real dependency on Father Jeub as priest, counselor, friend, loan officer, father figure and somehow God has been mixed up in all of it."

Carlson said he told the woman that he believed her and would confront the priest.

Jeub "did not deny the charges," Carlson wrote in an Aug. 13, 1987 memo to Roach. "It is my opinion, Archbishop, that Father Jeub has a pretty good understanding of the seriousness of this and is a good candidate for some therapy and study at this time."

The woman, whose name has been redacted, told the archdiocese that she had tried to confront Jeub directly - but that he didn't seem to realize that he had done anything wrong.

In a handwritten letter, the woman told Jeub, "You exploited me the first time you stopped focusing on what I was talking about and started focusing on how near your hand was to my breast and wondering how you could touch it. It hurts to realize how you took advantage of my vulnerability."

She continued, "I lost a lot in being exploited by you. I lost my self-respect, my integrity. I lost the sense of my sexuality being good and valuable. I struggle to trust God and prayer again. I'm angry at the Church for letting you get away with such behavior."

Jeub replied: "You raise a part of our relationship that I have had no comfort about either. I am extremely sorry for and deeply saddened by the pain and mistrust of yourself and your goodness that I have been party to. I never intended anything of that sort, but the proverb says the road to hell is paved that way."

He wrote, "I can only ask your forgiveness today for what was done in weakness and stupidity," adding that he wondered "if we weren't both co-dependent at that time."

Roach sent Jeub for a psychological evaluation at a treatment center for clergy in New Mexico run by the Servants of the Paraclete. Jeub told clinicians that he had "struggled to convert sexuality from a dirty thing to something beautiful" and that "I've always had a Messiah complex. Instances of the respect and power people bestow on the ordained, have left me awe-struck. It is a good way of spending time, energy, life," according to the center's report.

Jeub admitted sexual contact "with less than a dozen women, usually things became inappropriate when sexual behaviors outside our relationship became a counseling subject ... I have found myself in sexually awkward situations that I've handled well, others poorly. I hope I respect myself and woman. In principle, anything like exploitation, I find disgusting, although, I may have been guilty of it at times."

Jeub acknowledged that he was sent to the facility because of his contact with a young woman in the early 1970s. He counseled the woman and they became friends, he said. "Unfortunately, an affectionate masturbatory relation was also occasionally part of it," he said.

According to the facility's evaluation, Jeub engaged in a "triangular erotic friendship" with two young women at his parish beginning in 1972 or 1973. The contact involved "touching only, not intercourse."

Jeub also admitted to "a number of other sexual involvements, again usually touching only, but at least on one occasion with intercourse, these relationships creating no public problems and some of them continuing to the present as friendships," the report said. "He has suffered some guilt about these relationships but has tended to justify them to himself by thinking of them as helping relationships in which he was committed to the women's welfare."

While at the treatment center, Jeub admitted that he was still in a relationship with another woman, and that he was reluctant to end it because of concern about her health.

A psychologist at the center recommended "intensive residential placement" and expressed concern about Jeub's alleged pattern of seeking out needy women.

"They have all started with him being in a helping or counseling role, which extended to friendship and ultimately resulted in some sexual contact ..." the psychologist wrote. "In addition, it cannot be overlooked that becoming involved in friendships, not to mention the sexual relationship, after being in a professional relationship of a counselor, is generally considered unethical."

When Jeub returned from New Mexico, he moved into a rectory but wasn't assigned as a pastor. Roach sent Jeub to local therapist Gary Schoener, who had evaluated other priests accused of abuse. Schoener disagreed with the center's recommendations.

Jeub wouldn't be "a candidate for psychotherapy per se," Schoener wrote in an April 1988 report.

"It is my belief that Father Jeub, as he has gotten older, has become more aware of, or experienced drives for 'family' and sex which would be normal for a layperson to be able to satisfy by being married," he concluded.

Jeub acknowledged that his "needs" have "grown over time," Schoener wrote.

"Having tasted the 'forbidden fruit,' he has liked it, basically."

Schoener said Jeub's problem was primarily spiritual and recommended that he seek help from a spiritual director to decide whether to remain in the priesthood.

In a 1988 letter to Roach, the Rev. Michael O'Connell, another chancery official, said a church investigation "found that Father Jeub has admitted to being in other relationships of this kind, possibly as many as anywhere from 5-10 as a conservative estimate."

O'Connell added, "The parts that are especially troubling regarding Fr. Jeub's situation are that he continues to seem to not appreciate the kind of risk that could be associated with this kind of behavior both to adult women whom he may meet in the future and also the legal aspects of those risks."

Jeub agreed not to provide counseling to women, and O'Connell recommended to Roach that the priest receive counseling for himself instead.

Roach agreed. "I think that right now Jeub is dangerous to himself and to others without that kind of counseling," Roach wrote in a May 5, 1988 memo to O'Connell.

Concerns about possible crimes, and more complaints

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, more complaints surfaced. Documents show that church leaders knew that some of the alleged behavior could be illegal.

In 1989, McDonough, the chancery official, met with Jeub and one of the women with whom he had admitted to having an inappropriate relationship. McDonough reminded Roach that Minnesota law doesn't require church officials to report sexual exploitation of an adult by a priest.

In December 1989, another woman reported that Jeub made sexual advances toward her. "This is now the fifth victim of Father Jeub we are aware of," McDonough wrote in a memo to Roach. "The pattern is exactly the same: women in their late twenties or early thirties who are emotionally distressed. It is now absolutely clear that Jeub has something bigger than a celibacy problem here."

Roach replied, "The situation with Dick Jeub is sad. I don't see much alternative other than your continuing to work with him in the hope that she can see the reasonableness of terminating that relationship."

In 1990, a church official told Roach that Jeub appeared to have used a charity fund at his parish to funnel money to a woman who was struggling with her mortgage. Jeub had donated money to the fund and then withdrawn it and given it to the woman, according to Carlson, the church official.

Roach was bothered by the latest charge. In a Feb. 1, 1990 to the Rev. Austin Ward, who managed the archdiocese's finances, Roach said he was "nervous" about the report.

"If Father Jeub is making a gift to the parish and then, in fact, is giving those funds to another person, it seems to me that at the very least it's a tax dodge, and perhaps more seriously, it is a misuse of parish funds," Roach wrote.

The next several pages are blacked out.

Another evaluation - and another warning

In 1990, Roach sent Jeub to St. Luke Institute, a clergy treatment center in Maryland, for another evaluation.

In a referral letter, McDonough explained that Jeub "has been involved in at least five relationships in which he has engaged in sexual exploitation or made unsuccessful advances towards sexual exploitation. In each case the people involved were adult women in their late twenties or early thirties who were in a time of particular stress."

Clinicians at St. Luke Institute found that Jeub "is immature, has a striking lack of empathy in regard to the effect of his actions on others, and has a real lack of effective boundaries," McDonough told Roach in a 1990 memo.

The staff "believes that he is at high risk for repeat offending," McDonough wrote.

"In fact, the psychiatrist said that the staff was willing to say about Jeub what they would say about very few other people: they guarantee that he will re-offend, that after breaking up the relationship with [redacted] he will take on another exploitative relationship as soon as he meets the right kind of vulnerable woman.

"They are not confident about Father Jeub's susceptibility to treatment. Because of his intellectual strength, he is very well defensed and his lack of empathy is a real barrier. They believe that the only possibility for successful treatment is in an inpatient setting, and have recommended that that take place at St. Luke's."

Roach agreed with the recommendation.

Jeub did not. "None of these relationships primarily or initially involved appointments, formal requests for counseling or such," he wrote in a letter to the archdiocese.

The priest objected to the clinicians' opinion that he was still "at risk" of misconduct.

"Are we ever not at risk?" Jeub wrote. "Learning by our mistakes is a brutal school and many have suffered in my education thus far. I hope, and intend, never to be responsible for another's suffering the way I've inflicted emotional and spiritual pain and harm on the women I consciously cared for yet acted so harmfully toward."

Meanwhile, McDonough met with two adult children whose mother allegedly had a sexual relationship with Jeub.

McDonough told Roach that he reassured the woman's children "that we were doing whatever we could to try to break up the relationship."

He said he tried to explain sexual exploitation to the woman's children.

"I told them that sometimes these relationships with people become all knotted up like a ball of twine," McDonough wrote. "One's temptation is to pull hard on the two ends to separate the string, but that only tangles it tighter. We are trying to use a more thorough but slightly slower process. They seem to understand and accept that."

Jeub resigned from St. Kevin in 1990 amid concerns about possible lawsuits.

One of many accused priests

Jeub was just one of dozens of priests accused of sexual misconduct, and the files show that his case overlapped with others. He crossed paths with other accused priests while in treatment at St. Luke Institute in Maryland in 1990. The following year, McDonough accidentally used another accused priest's name in a letter to an alleged victim of Jeub.

"First of all, let me indicate again my embarrassment at my miscommunication with" the woman, McDonough wrote in a memo to the archdiocese's victims' advocate. "As I have indicated to you, I had gotten the mistaken notion in my mind that she was a victim of Fr. Michael Kolar."

Jeub met other abusive priests at Twin Cities clergy support groups. In 1992, he asked McDonough if he could work alongside the Rev. Michael Stevens, a priest who had pleaded guilty to child sexual abuse. Jeub said he had met Stevens at a "priest support" meeting and Stevens talked about his work at a Catholic education center.

Although the archdiocese did not object to Stevens' work with the center, it did object to Jeub's proposed involvement.

Instead, Jeub found work in 1994 "providing office support for a development project of the Catholic Youth Camps Inc," according to another memo from McDonough to Roach.

Allegations of child sexual abuse

In 1990, the archdiocese learned of allegations that Jeub had sexual contact with a teenage girl. McDonough told Roach that a woman said Jeub "engaged her in some sexual contact" when she was 13 or 14. "She did not specify the extent of the sexual contact," McDonough wrote.

The woman said the abuse began when she went to Jeub for confession. Jeub offered to drive her home and kissed her in a hallway. Jeub "did not caress her breasts but he held her above and below her breasts," McDonough wrote. The woman reported two other sexual incidents with Jeub, according to McDonough.

Another woman came forward to the archdiocese in 1991 to allege abuse by Jeub as a teenager. McDonough met with the woman, who told him that she had tried to kill herself twice when she was a teenager. McDonough told Roach in a memo that the woman said her suicide attempts were "explicitly aimed at showing Father Jeub how badly he was hurting her."

When some of the women threatened to sue, reporters learned of the abuse complaints. One of the cases went to a jury in 1995, and Jeub was found not guilty.

After the jury verdict, McDonough pushed for Jeub to return to ministry. "Jeub has been deprived of his ministry for five years, which is a fairly heavy punishment, probably heavier than would have been laid against him in other professions," McDonough told Roach in a May 10, 1995 memo.

Roach sent the case to the archdiocese's clergy review board, a group that advised the archbishop on abuse cases. Roach retired in 1995, and his replacement, Archbishop Harry Flynn, received the board's recommendation that Jeub return to ministry with some restrictions.

Before returning Jeub to ministry, Flynn sent him for another psychiatric evaluation. Dr. Robert Barron diagnosed the priest with a sexual disorder and issued a report that said he found it "impossible to accurately predict with sufficient accuracy whether client may be prone to future sexual acting out behavior."

The priest "does not believe that non-needy women are at risk because he tends to be more attracted to vulnerable ones," Barron wrote.

Chancery officials reviewed Barron's report and worried that some of the alleged victims might still be able to file lawsuits. In an Aug. 21, 1996 memo to Flynn and McDonough, Sister Dominica Brennan asked, "With regard to these instances, might complaints still be filed, or has the statute run? If Father were given some form of public ministry, would that draw attention to him which might lead to such a complaint?"

Documents show that McDonough checked the dates and determined that at least one of the women would no longer be able to sue.

Flynn assigns Jeub to work with a priest later accused of child sex abuse

In 1997, Flynn assigned Jeub to serve as parochial vicar of Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale. However, Jeub quickly ran into problems with the parish priest, the Rev. Robert Zasacki.

In a letter to the archdiocese, Zasacki detailed his complaints. He recounted an incident before Sunday Mass in which Jeub had "noticed that the back of the dress of the female lector was open three or four or five buttons. Dick immediately got up and went over to the woman and began buttoning her dress. I waited a day and a half to see if Dick would have any comment about this. He didn't. So, I brought the subject up and told him that I was surprised at that behavior. I stated that the buttoning of a woman's dress was an act of intimacy and one which I felt was inappropriate for a priest to do ... What concerns me is the lack of a sense of boundaries on the part of Fr. Jeub and the complete absence of impulse control."

Jeub resigned from the parish. Flynn later removed Zasacki from ministry for alleged child sexual abuse.

Flynn assigned Jeub as parochial vicar at St. John in Little Canada and, in 1999, as parochial administrator of Sacred Heart-St. Lawrence in Faribault.

When the national clergy sex abuse scandal broke in 2002, Jeub retired from ministry. However, he later claimed that he had been forced out and asked to be reinstated. Flynn refused.

Jeub wrote angry letters to Flynn complaining of his treatment. He denied sexually abusing children. "You continue to slander me by applying the sanctions laid on those guilty of child abuse ..." Jeub wrote in a Nov. 6, 2006 letter to Flynn. "In my moral theology, slander was a mean, vicious and sinful activity."

He continued, "You seem almost obsessed about possible reactions from the faithful and the press. The first person that I shared your letter with was initially speechless, then used the words 'appalling' and 'totally disrespectful.'

He added, "One priest put it quite bluntly to mutual friends, 'Dick's getting screwed.'"

Jeub has not returned to ministry since his retirement in 2002, according to the archdiocese.