Jeff Anderson Statement on Recent Acquittal of Former Hastings Priest Francis Hoefgen

(St. Paul, MN) – The acquittal of Fran Hoefgen in the criminal case is sad, scary and a travesty of justice.  The jury returned a verdict of not guilty because they were not able to know and hear the full picture of predatory conduct well-established by Fran Hoefgen.

Today we release more information that the jury did not hear that could have and should have changed the outcome.  Because they did not learn Fran Hoefgen abused at least two boys, had been sent to treatment for it, had admitted having abused at least one boy in prior parishes and given a free pass by a former prosecutor in Stearns County, the jury saw this as one boy against a priest who testified that he did not even know who the boy was.  The acquittal of Fran Hoefgen permits this offender to continue in the community unabated.  He poses a risk of peril and harm to many, both in his denial and the freedom that he should not be able to enjoy.

The documents we are releasing with this statement, and available on our website, demonstrate a long pattern of predatory conduct by this former priest.  He is a peril.  We are scared for the children and we praise and applaud the courageous survivor who did come forward, stand up, speak the truth and while he told his story, the whole story, the full truth was not revealed to this jury and they have left a half-truth and a lie by Fran Hoefgen.  He is a known serial offender.  He is a risk of harm to the community and kids and he belongs behind bars.

The statements made by Hoefgen’s lawyer, Michael Colich, about the deficiencies of the police is also misleading and deceptive.  The fact is the police fully interviewed the other victims of abuse by Hoefgen, who were prepared to testify to the offenses committed against them years ago, in the same pattern as Hoefgen employed at the parish of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton in Hastings.  They did thorough police work and Hoefgen’s criticism of the police is unwarranted, misleading, and deceptive as it is disturbing. This was a systemic failure and children remain at serious risk in the community while Hoefgen remains at large.