Joseph Louis Heitzer: Substantiated Claims of Sexual Abuse of a Minor

Joseph Louis Heitzer

Father Louis Joseph Heitzer was ordained in 1942 and subsequently worked in parishes in central and west-central Minnesota before he was permanently removed from ministry in 1969 after 25+ years in the priesthood. Father Heitzer’s name was released on December 2, 2013 as part of a court ordered disclosure requiring the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to publicly name priests with credible accusation of child sexual abuse who were named in the 2004 John Jay Charter Study.

On September 16, 2014 the priest file of Louis Heitzer was released to the public by Jeff Anderson & Associates. At least three Archbishops knew of Heitzer’s inappropriate behavior with children and numerous parents sent letters to church officials detailing accounts of sexual abuse by Father Heitzer. Meetings were held in rural parishes with parents of several youths who claimed to have witnessed or experienced abuse by Heitzer.

At least a decade after allegations of inappropriate behavior surfaced, Heitzer was hospitalized and after one month of treatment was returned to ministry “with perfect safety.” In 2002, after more victims came forward alleging sexual abuse by Father Heitzer, then-Vicar General Father Kevin McDonough, in a September 24, 2002 letter refers to Louis Heitzer as “perhaps the most abusive priest ever to be part of this Archdiocese. I believe he abused boys every place he went.”

One of Heitzer’s victims told the U.S. bishops gathered in Dallas in 2002 of his sexual abuse by Heitzer in approximately 1968 when he was 11 years old. The Vicar General of the Archdiocese indicated at the 2002 gathering that the Archdiocese knew about allegations that Father Heitzer had abused children.

According to documents filed in court on December 2, 2013 by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Louis Joseph Heitzer was assigned to the following parishes:

· 1942-1944: Most Holy Trinity, Winsted (New Ulm)

· 1944: St. Andrew, Fairfax (New Ulm)

· 1944-1945: Assumption, St. Paul

· 1945: Holy Redeemer, Marshall (New Ulm)

· 1945-1948: St. Mary, Sleepy Eye (New Ulm)

· 1948: St. Joseph, Waconia

· 1948-1950: St. Aloysius, Olivia (New Ulm)

· 1950-1954: Sacred Heart, Franklin (New Ulm)

· 1954-1955: St. Joseph, Rosen

· 1955-1956: St. Michael, Gaylord (New Ulm)

· 1956-1958: St. Luke, Clearwater

· 1958-1966: St. Scholastica, Heidelberg

· 1966-1967: St. Richard, Richfield

· 1969: Permanently removed from ministry; died in treatment for alcoholism