Courageous Survivors Fought for Release of Key Documents and Depositions Used in Vatican Investigation of Former Bishop Michael Hoeppner

As stated by Jeff Anderson, the Resignation of former Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of the Diocese of Crookston is because of:

  • It happened because of the courage of the survivors, including Ron Vasek, who stood up and made their voices heard.
  • It happened because litigation initiated by the survivors allowed excavation of secret documents.
  • It happened because Hoeppner and top officials were forced to testify under oath.
  • It happened because the courthouse doors were open to survivors under the Minnesota Child Victims Act.
  • It happened because light brings heat and heat brings change.

(Saint Paul, MN) – A 2017 lawsuit brought by attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates on behalf of courageous survivor, Ron Vasek, resulted in the investigation and ultimate removal of former Bishop of the Crookston diocese, Michael J. Hoeppner.  Hoeppner was one of two bishops in the United States initially investigated and ultimately forced to resign under the Vatican’s ‘motu proprio’ Vos Estis Lux Mundi, a new procedure on handling investigations into clergy sexual abuse.

In addition to Vasek, attorney Anderson represented 14 additional survivors with claims against the Diocese of Crookston for abuse they suffered as children.  As part of a 2019 settlement of Vasek’s and the other survivors’ claims, secret documents and depositions of top officials taken in Vasek’s case were released. Jeff Anderson & Associates provided these documents to Vatican investigators, which were then key to the Vatican’s forced resignation of Bishop Hoeppner.

The lawsuits unearthed the key document that Bishop Hoeppner coerced Ron Vasek to sign, which was a centerpiece of the Vatican investigation. At the time, Vasek was a deacon candidate and his son a priest of the Diocese. Hoeppner threatened Vasek’s son’s priesthood if Vasek did not sign the document (below) recanting his accusations of child sexual abuse against another priest.

“These documents and depositions were essential to the Vatican investigation and ultimate removal of Bishop Hoeppner,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “If not for the courage of Vasek and the other survivors in the Diocese of Crookston who pushed for transparency and release of this information, Bishop Hoeppner may not have been removed.”