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St. John's Abbey faces new abuse suit

5/18/2010 12:00:00 AM

St. John's Abbey faces new abuse suit

St. John's Abbey is accused of breaking a promise to the family of two boys allegedly abused by monk that he would not work with kids again.

St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., broke its promise that a monk accused of sexually abusing a 12- and a 14-year-old boy would be barred from working with children, a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Ramsey County Court alleges.

The latest clergy abuse suit filed by St. Paul lawyer Jeff Anderson involves the Rev. Raymond Francisco Schulte, 57, who was accused of abusing the boys in the mid-1980s and is now living in Rome, where his duties include leading school tours of religious landmarks.

The suit contends that the boys and their parents were assured that he would never return to regular duty. But the older victim, now 40, learned earlier this year that Schulte was restored to fully active duty in 2003, and his position occasionally provides him unsupervised access to children.

"This is very, very, very dangerous," said Anderson.

The abbey issued a statement that Schulte (who uses his middle name as his first name) worked there according to the "non-risk" limitations from 1984 to 2002. In 2002, he went to Italy after filing for a canonical leave. "Taking such a leave means that the superior of Saint John's Abbey does not have oversight over the monk," the statement says.

The suit was filed on behalf of two brothers who served as altar boys for Schulte when he was working in the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C. When Schulte moved to Minnesota, he talked the older brother into enrolling at St. John's Preparatory School, where the abuse allegedly continued.

In an interview after the suit was announced, the older brother said that both he and his brother have faced multiple problems, including substance abuse issues and divorces. He expressed anger that the man he blames for ruining their lives "is living the good life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world."

He said that he learned that Schulte had been restored to full duty from behindthepinecurtain.com, an online watchdog site that focuses on clergy sexual abuse. The site is run by Pat Marker, who used to be part of an external review board created by the abbey to investigate charges of abuse.

"When I heard that Schulte's name had been removed [from the restricted duty list], I couldn't believe it," Marker said. "His name was brought up again and again to the review board."

The statute of limitations has expired on the abuse charges. The suit charges Schulte, the abbey, the preparatory school and the Order of St. Benedict with fraud. It seeks unspecified damages plus payment of expenses for medical and psychological treatment. The older brother said that he also wants to keep Schulte away from young people.

"We were told that he would not be allowed to be around kids," he said. "There are other kids to protect."

Jeff Strickler ? 612-673-7392