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Lawsuit: Despite reports to St. Leo’s principal and parish priest, Father Thomas Stitts was allowed access to kids

6/20/2013 11:07:00 AM

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News Release

Despite reports to St. Leo’s principal and parish priest, Father Thomas Stitts was allowed access to kids

Lawsuit filed today under Child Victims Act


(St. Paul, MN) -   A Minnesota man will get a chance at justice due to the Child Victims Act, recently passed by the legislature allowing survivors of child sexual abuse to hold their abuser and any institution that allowed the abuse to happen, accountable in court. “The Child Victims Act passed into law now gives this survivor a chance for hope, healing, and an opportunity to help protect others” said attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents Plaintiff John Doe 150. Since filing the first civil lawsuit involving Fr. Stitts in the early 1990s, Anderson has represented numerous survivors of sexual abuse by Stitts.

A former St. Leo’s student and altar boy, the Plaintiff was sexually abused by Father Thomas Stitts at the St. Paul school and parish when he was 14 years-old. The Archdiocese fought the original lawsuit on the statute of limitations, using it to prevent John Doe 150 from getting his day in court. The new lawsuit brought under the Child Victims Act, names the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis as the defendant and claims the Archdiocese was negligent in placing Stitts at St. Leo’s, knowing Stitts had a history of child sexual abuse. “Stitts was a serial offender who could not control himself,” said Anderson, “and the only one who could control him were his superiors in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, and they chose not to and protected themselves instead of the children.”

Both the school’s principal and parish priest were notified of the sexual abuse by Stitts yet failed to act and remove Stitts from ministry. The sexual abuse was not reported to civil authorities  and  Stitts  was  allowed  to  continue  to  work  with  children  and  prey  on  the vulnerable. Stitts worked in several Minnesota communities including St. Paul, Edina, Hastings, Long Lake and New Brighton. Stitts is believed to have abused at least a dozen children during his various assignments.  Ordained in 1962, Fr. Thomas Stitts died October 13, 1985 at the age of 50 while assigned to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Brighton.

“We are grateful to stand with this survivor and others,” Anderson continued, “to bring light to darkness, to expose the dark histories and together make sure it’s not repeated. We have been contacted by over a dozen survivors of Stitts from various locations and we encourage others to know they can break the silence, come forward privately and now do something to get help and protect others.”

The complaint is available at www.andersonadvocates.com
Contact Jeff Anderson: Office/651.227.9990 Mobile/612.817.8665