(St. Paul, MN) – Fifteen survivors of child sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Crookston have settled their lawsuits against the Diocese.
In addition to receiving compensation, the 15 survivors compelled the Diocese of Crookston to be more transparent through non-economic settlement provisions. As part of the settlement, the names and secret files of clergy accused of sexually abusing children in the Diocese of Crookston will be made public at a later date. In addition, depositions taken in the litigation of clergy child sex abuse cases against the Diocese will be made public.
“The settlement brings some closure for these courageous survivors and is a step in the right direction for the Diocese of Crookston,” said Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates, attorney for the 15 survivors. “By coming forward and holding the Diocese accountable, these survivors are taking back power that was stolen from them when they were abused as children. This settlement gives them a measure of justice while avoiding more prolonged litigation. It will help advance healing for survivors and child protection in the Diocese.”
With the settlement, the Diocese of Crookston avoids filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which other Minnesota dioceses have done after facing dozens of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits.
The 15 survivors were abused by priests in the Diocese of Crookston. Most of the 15 survivors brought their lawsuits as a result of the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which was enacted in 2013 and gave survivors whose cases were otherwise barred by the statute of limitations a three-year window until May 25, 2016, to bring lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that enabled them. Since the Child Victims Act went into effect in May 2013, at least four other child sexual abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Crookston were settled.
The 15 survivors’ lawsuits alleged child sexual abuse by clergy including Fr. James Bernauer; Fr. James Porter; Fr. Patrick Sullivan; Fr. Stanley Bourassa; Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald, OMI; and Msgr. Roger Grundhaus. The survivors were abused between approximately 1969 and 2009.