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St. John's Abbey settles sex abuse suit

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St. John's Abbey has reached a settlement with a man who said he was sexually abused as a teenager by a Benedictine monk.

The man, known in court filings as Doe 2, sued St. John's Abbey in 2013 for allegedly failing to protect him from sexual abuse by the Rev. Allen Tarlton in the late 1970s.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents Doe 2, said the settlement will require St. John's Abbey to release the files of 19 monks accused of sexually abusing children and provide a financial settlement for an amount that will not be publicly disclosed. 

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St. John's Abbey declined to describe the agreement. "Out of respect for the privacy of the parties involved and the agreement we have made, we have no further comment on this settlement," it said in a statement Monday.

The lawsuit, filed in Stearns County, accused Tarlton of abusing the boy in about 1977 when he lived on campus as a student at St. John's Preparatory School in Collegeville. Tarlton was the boy's English teacher. It said the abbey knew of abuse allegations against Tarlton nearly two decades earlier and failed to call police or warn students and parents.

According to the lawsuit, Tarlton first lost his teaching job in 1958 in response to two complaints from students, but he was reassigned to teach at St. John's University and later returned to teach at the prep school, where he allegedly abused the man identified as Doe 2. 

In 2011, St. John's Abbey included Tarlton on a public list of current and former monks who "have had credible allegations of sexual abuse, exploitation, or misconduct brought against them while they were working in one of the apostolates of St. John's Abbey, or before they were a member of the abbey." 

Tarlton was included on a similar list released by the abbey in 2013. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

As of 2013, Tarlton and eight other accused monks lived at the abbey "under supervised safety plans," according to a statement from the abbey at the time. 

The settlement with Doe 2 does not affect the other cases pending against St. John's Abbey, said attorney Mike Finnegan, who works with Anderson. Finnegan estimates the firm has about a dozen such cases, including lawsuits and cases that have not been filed in court.