John Nicholson: Clergy With Credible Claims Against Them Concerning Sexual Abuse of a Young Person

John Nicholson


Father John Nicholson was ordained in 1948 and worked as pastor at St. Rose Catholic Church in Proctor, Minnesota in the Diocese of Duluth from 1966-1970. During his short time there, at least four allegations arose of Father Nicholson’s inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse of children.

In 1995, the Diocese of Duluth paid an undisclosed amount to settle a lawsuit brought by a man who said Father John Nicholson repeatedly sexually abused him when he was a boy. In 2003 the Diocese of Duluth settled another case brought by a man who alleged Father Nicholson abused him multiple times beginning in 1965 when he was an 11-year-old altar boy at St. Rose.

On July 26, 2013 sexual abuse survivor Michael DeRoche filed a lawsuit in St. Louis County for sexual abuse he endured by Nicholson when Nicholson worked at St. Rose. DeRoche publicly announced his lawsuit and encouraged others abused by Father Nicholson to speak out and report their abuse. DeRoche also required the list of 17 priests in the Diocese of Duluth with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, be released to the public.

Father John Nicholson worked at parishes in Duluth, Grand Rapids, Hill City, Swatara, Deer River, Cohasset, Proctor and Deerwood, Minnesota. He also worked for the Diocese of Duluth as its Director of Boy Scouting (Boy Scouts) from 1948-1961 and as a Director of Vocations recruiting students and/or young adults.

According to the Diocese of Duluth, Fr. Nicholson worked in the following locations:

  • 1948 – 1953: St. James Church, Duluth, MN
  • 1948 – 1961: Diocesan Director of Scouting
  • 1953 – 1956: St. John’s Church, Hill City, MN
  • 1959 – 1960: St. Mary’s Church, Deer River, MN
  • 1959 – 1960: Mission of St. Augustine, Cohasset, MN
  • 1960 – 1960: St. John’s Church, Hill City, MN
  • 1960 – 1966: St. Mary’s Church, Deer River, MN
  • 1966 – 1970: St. Rose Church, Proctor, MN
  • 1970 – 1970: Leave of Absence
  • 1970 – 1988: St. Joseph’s Church, Deerwood, MN
  • 1988: 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