Judge gives man go-ahead in suit against Diocese

PAT PHEIFER Star Tribune

Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin has ruled that a man who says he was molested in the 1980s by former Catholic priest Thomas Adamson can seek punitive damages in his lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona.

The suit accuses the archdiocese and diocese of negligence and fraud for not stopping one of the most notorious pedophile priests in Minnesota history. Adamson has been accused of sexually abusing as many as 28 children during his 25 years in the priesthood.

The plaintiff, a Twin Cities man identified in court documents only as John Doe 76C, alleges that he was sexually abused from 1980 to 1982 while Adamson was serving at Risen Savior parish in Apple Valley.

The man’s attorney, Jeff Anderson, brought a motion in November to add a claim for punitive damages to the suit, saying that church officials knew Adamson molested children as far back as 1963, yet they continued to give the priest unlimited access to children.

Attorneys for the church had argued that punitive damages in the case would be unconstitutional and that it is improper to have multiple punitive-damage awards against the church for essentially the same conduct.

Anderson said he hopes the case can go to trial this spring.