Diocese of Crookston, Bishop Hoeppner Wrongly Reinstate Priest Accused of Child Sexual Abuse
Anderson Calls Bishop Hoeppner The Most Dangerous and Deceptive Bishop in America Today
Attorney Calls on Bishop Hoeppner to Come Clean About Fr. Sullivans Known History and Risk to Children
(St. Paul, MN) – Crookston Diocese Bishop Michael Hoeppner’s decision to reinstate Fr. Patrick Sullivan to public ministry is dangerous and deceptive. Bishop Hoeppner’s announcement to return Fr. Sullivan to ministry after suspending him in 2016 due to a report that he sexually abused a minor signals another action by Hoeppner that puts the welfare of priests and the reputation of the diocese above the safety of the community and children.
In 2016, Doe 457 brought a lawsuit against the Diocese of Crookston alleging that he was sexually abused as a child by Fr. Sullivan. At that time, the Diocese of Crookston appropriately suspended Sullivan from ministry. On December 23, 2017, Bishop Hoeppner reinstated Sullivan even though the lawsuit is still active and the parties are still exchanging information about the facts of the case.
“The decision by the diocese and Bishop Hoeppner to return Fr. Sullivan to ministry while the lawsuit is pending is reckless because Fr. Sullivan poses a threat of harm to children and deceptive because there is information that has not been made known to the public that is in Bishop Hoeppner’s possession that demonstrates that this diocese and Hoeppner are doing the wrong thing again,” said Jeff Anderson, attorney for the man who brought the lawsuit, known in the suit as Doe 457.
Anderson said that he stands by Doe 457’s lawsuit that was served in 2016 and that he and his firm have received information in the handling of the case that shows that, before Doe 457 reported his abuse in 2009, Bishop Hoeppner received information that showed that Fr. Sullivan posed a serious risk of harm. Hoeppner possessed documents before Doe 457’s report in 2009 that reflect that a professional evaluation of Fr. Sullivan was conducted at Hoeppner’s request.
“Bishop Hoeppner had information that showed that Sullivan was a risk,” Anderson said. “We believe Sullivan is still a risk to children and should not be reinstated.”