A lawsuit was filed in Stearns County today on behalf of a survivor who was sexually abused by Fr. James Thoennes, a priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud. The survivor, Doe 50, was an elementary school student at St. John’s in Foley, Minnesota in the early 1970s when he met Fr. Thoennes who was assigned there. The sexual abuse occurred at Thoennes’ mother’s home in Central Minnesota where he invited Doe 50 and at least 20 other children to accompany him on overnight visits.
Notably, years before the abuse of Doe 50, Thoennes was busted by an official at the Diocese of St. Cloud and admitted he had sexually abused another boy, and had a sexual interest in children. Thoennes was not only allowed to continue working as a priest throughout the Diocese of St. Cloud, but was allowed unlimited access to children, including Doe 50. The Diocese never warned children, their parents, or the public in general about the threat Thoennes posed to kids.
In a September 2014 deposition in another case, Father Thoennes admitted to sexually abusing at least five boys while working as a priest of the Diocese. He has never been prosecuted for his crimes. Portions of that deposition were previously made public in September 2014 in another case and can be found on our website under “News & Events.”
Also in his complaint Doe 50 alleges the Diocese of St. Cloud has created a public nuisance by its handling of Thoennes and 25 other priests alleged to have sexually abused children. The Diocese continues to refuse to make known to the public critical information about offenders’ dangerous histories refusing to reveal the files that show how top officials, past and present, have protected offenders.