Dennis Puhl: Clergy With Credible Claims Against Them Concerning Sexual Abuse of a Young Person

Dennis Puhl


Father Dennis Puhl was convicted of 4th Degree Sexual Assault and sentenced to 21 months in prison and five years probation for attacking a fifteen year-old boy at St. Casimir’s Parish in Cloquet, Minnesota in 1980.

In 1983, a lawsuit was filed against the Diocese of Duluth claiming the church knew Fr. Puhl had received treatment for similar acts of sexual abuse in 1977 while he was serving at a parish in Virginia, Minnesota. During a deposition for that suit, Fr. Puhl admitted to sexually abusing five other boys during his time in Virginia and said he received treatment following that abuse.

Father Puhl was born in 1947 and ordained in 1974. The Diocese of Duluth included Fr. Puhl on its official list of clergy members with credible allegations of child sexual abuse.

According to the Diocese of Duluth, Father Dennis Puhl worked in the following locations:

  • 1974-1978: Holy Spirit Church, Virginia, MN
  • 1978-1979: St. Casimir’s Church, Cloquet, MN
  • 1978-1979: Mission at Cromwell, MN
  • 1979 – 1980: Mission at Saginaw, MN
  • 1980: Sick Leave
  • 1986: Signed a statement terminating priestly ministry and affiliation with the Diocese of Duluth
  • 1995: Died

Efforts to unseal the secret documents regarding clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Duluth began with the first lawsuit filed in June 2013. Since then, survivors have taken numerous actions to make the files public.

In October 2015, a jury verdict was handed down against the Diocese of Duluth in a child sexual abuse case in Ramsey County involving Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald. On December 7, 2015, the Diocese of Duluth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

More information on the Diocese of Duluth bankruptcy can be found