On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Man claims Minnesota nun sexually abused him in the '60s

Share story

Doug Devorak claims a nun sexually abused him.
Doug Devorak, right, claims a nun sexually abused him in the 1960s when he was a fifth grader at St. Michael's Catholic School in Madison, Minn. He spoke to reporters alongside his attorney, Patrick Noaker, on April 29, 2015 in Minneapolis.
Curtis Gilbert | MPR News

The Archdiocese of New Ulm faces a lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse by a nun in the 1960s. It's the first case involving a nun filed under a Minnesota law temporarily lifting the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse lawsuits.

  Doug Devorak claims Sister Mary Regina Hebig repeatedly fondled him when he was a fifth grader at St. Michael's Catholic School in Madison, Minn.

  Devorak, 57, said he kept it a secret for decades out of respect for his parents.

  "Our parents trusted these people with our moral and religious upbringing," he said. "And people say, 'Well Doug, why did you wait so long?' The answer's real simple. My parents couldn't have taken that."

  Devorak's parents are both dead, as is Hebig. Officials with the Diocese of New Ulm say the diocese was not aware of any complaints involving her and was not involved in hiring employees at the school.

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

  "We are committed to offering help and healing to anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct and to preventing this terrible crime from occurring in the diocese," the diocese added in a written statement.

  Devorak's lawyer, Patrick Noaker, said sex-abuse cases involving nuns are relatively rare.

  "It really is an area that has not been investigated, even," Noaker said. "And these are the women that were in charge of every minute of unsupervised access to our children — every minute of the day, nuns had access to our children."

  The School Sisters of Notre Dame, which also was named as a defendant, declined to comment because it has not yet received the suit.