‘Con man’ posing as deacon accused of sexual abuse

(Star Tribune) During his years at St. Agnes Parish in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood, Thomas Kemp portrayed himself as a deacon and served as general manager of a Catholic TV station that had its high-tech studios there.

“We might be 100 years old, but if you look behind the scenes, we’re into the 21st century,” he told the Star Tribune in a story published in August 1990.

On Monday, a former altar boy at the church, Benjamin Magler, 26, filed suit in Ramsey County District Court, alleging that he was sexually abused by Kemp for about five years beginning in the late 1980s.

Also named as defendants were St. Agnes Parish and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the latter of which issued a statement Tuesday describing Kemp as an apparent “con man” whose whereabouts now were unknown.

“At no time was he a member of the Catholic clergy here or elsewhere, nor did he have the permission of the Archdiocese to engage in any of the ministerial work of a deacon,” Tuesday’s statement said.

According to the suit, Magler had sought out Kemp “as a deacon” to help with problems at home, and Kemp became a “surrogate uncle” to the boy.

His attorney, Mike Finnegan, said Tuesday that the abuse began when Magler was in second or third grade and primarily involved Kemp touching the boy’s genitals.

Magler since has suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, his attorney said, and has battled alcohol abuse.

“He’s hopefully through that now,” Finnegan added.

According to the Archdiocese, it began working “pastorally” with Magler and his family in 2002, and it “continues to be disposed to help him heal from the effects of the abuse he tells us Thomas Kemp committed,” the statement says.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages.