Former Hastings priest to be tried this week in sex abuse case

Francis Hoefgen
Francis Hoefgen mug shot
Courtesy Dakota County Sheriff

A former Hastings priest accused of sexual abuse 25 years ago is set to go on trial this week.

Jury selection in Francis Hoefgen's criminal case began Tuesday in Dakota County and will continue Wednesday, according to the Dakota County Attorney's Office. Opening statements will follow jury selection unless Hoefgen reaches a plea agreement.

Dakota County prosecutors charged Hoefgen, 64, with first degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly abusing an altar boy from the time he was about 9 until 12 years old.

The alleged abuse occurred while Hoefgen was a priest at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Hastings from 1989 to 1991, according to the criminal complaint. Hastings police were notified in November 2013. The victim is not named in court documents.

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Minnesota law allows prosecutors to pursue criminal charges for three years after a victim reports child sexual abuse to law enforcement, even if the incident happened decades earlier.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom declined to comment on the case.

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Hoefgen, who's also a former St. John's Abbey monk, is the subject of a separate civil lawsuit against St. John's Abbey. A plaintiff claimed the church should have known Hoefgen was a danger because he admitted to abusing another boy a few years earlier.

In 2011, St. John's Abbey identified Hoefgen as one of 18 former and current monks who had credible allegations of sex abuse.

Hoefgen's attorney Michael Colich did not immediately return messages requesting comment.